The first volume of memoirs from the two-time winner of the Booker Prize.
Rose Miller has it all: wealthy husband, gorgeous little girl, lavish house, great success as a novelistand a stalker who knows about her shady past.
“As funny, cruel and terrifying as life itself. It is also intense and elegant, clearly the product of the complex, subtle imagination which shapes Coetzee’s outstanding fiction… As austerely beautiful as would be expected of Coetzee the artist… its aloof, edgy grace and seething passion ensure the narrative is both truthful and mysterious.” Irish Times
“A deeply-felt and utterly compelling account of a South African childhood: the narrative style is as spare and lean as the Karoo flatlands which form its backdrop.” Daily Telegraph
- Secker, Martin & Warburg, Limited
- Publication date:
What People are saying about this
"Exceptional...a scorched tale of race, caste, shame, and—at times—hilarious bewilderment." —The New Yorker
"Tremendously readable and powerful...a masterfully told, spare and accessible memoir." —The Boston Globe
Meet the Author
J.M. Coetzee is a professor of general literature at the University of Cape Town. His many awards include the Booker Prize, twice, for The Life & Times of Michael K in 1983 and for Disgrace in 1999. He is a two-time Booker Prize winner, has also won the CNA prize, South Africa’s premier literary award (three times), the Prix Etranger Femina, the Jerusalem Prize, the Lannan Literary Award and the Irish Times International Fiction Prize.
- Adelaide, Australia
- Date of Birth:
- February 9, 1940
- Place of Birth:
- Cape Town, South Africa
- B.A., University of Cape Town, 1960; M.A., 1963; Ph.D. in Literature, University of Texas, Austin, 1969
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At first, the thought of a memoir written in the third person came as a shock to me. I was very skeptical as to how it would turn out. Surprisingly enough, it works. In his memoir Boyhood, J.M. Coetzee tells of his childhood growing up in apartheid South Africa. And all of the struggles he faces while going through adolescence are shown through a boy we only know as ¿he¿. Because of this detachment I was able to see his childhood from his point of view, while understanding it from the perspective of someone else seeing it. The setting in which his childhood takes place greatly shapes his thoughts and emotions. As someone with mixed English and Afrikaans heritage with no real religious beliefs, he has serious trouble fitting in. After responding to a teacher¿s question of what religion he is he replies Roman Catholic because it reminds him of ancient Rome. After being hissed at by the largely Christian student body he immediately regrets his decision and hopes to be asked again the next day. ¿Then he, who has clearly made a mistake, can correct himself and be a Christian.¿ This fear of being singled out is also shown through his regret for his last name. When told he may be switched into a class with all students of Afrikaans descent, he prepares for the worst. ¿He has a plan for that day¿ he will not go to the Afrikaans classes¿Then he will lock the front door and tell his mother that he is not going back to school, that if she betrays him he will kill himself.¿ It is the incredibly structured social system of his country where everyone has a place that makes his adolescent search for his own identity that much more difficult. In his memoir Coetzee showed me a life I had never heard of in a place I have never seen, and yet it is a life I am familiar with that I can understand. While the scenes he depicts are so unique to him, he is still ultimately telling the story of a boy growing up.
In recollecting his own childhood experiences, J. M. Coetzee's "Boyhood" provides an insightful examination of growing up in South Africa during the years of apartheid. The book provides a very personal account of events and is not afraid to reveal some of the harsh realities of education under apartheid. Another book with a similar theme is M. J. Poynter's "Middleburg: Going to School in Apartheid South Africa." This novel is set during the 1980's and is surprisingly funny and entertaining to read.