Summertime
by J. M. Coetzee









Summertime
by J. M. Coetzee

Summary
Shortlisted for the 2009 Man Booker Prize A brilliant new work of fiction from the Nobel Prize-winning author of Disgrace and Diary of a Bad Year A young English biographer is researching a book about the late South African writer John Coetzee, focusing on Coetzee in his thirties, at a time when he was living in a rundown cottage in the Cape Town suburbs with his widowed father-a time, the biographer is convinced, when Coetzee was finding himself as a writer. Never having met the man himself, the biographer interviews five people who knew Coetzee well, including a married woman with whom he had an affair, his cousin Margot, and a Brazilian dancer whose daughter took English lessons with him. These accounts add up to an image of an awkward, reserved, and bookish young man who finds it hard to make meaningful connections with the people around him. Summertime is an inventive and inspired work of fiction that allows J.M. Coetzee to imagine his own life with a critical and unsparing eye, revealing painful moral struggles and attempts to come to grips with what it means to care for another human being. Incisive, elegant, and often surprisingly funny, Summertime is a compelling work by one of today's most esteemed writers. .

Characters
NameUnnamed
GenderMale
OccupationBiographer
AttributesWriting a biography on J. M. Coetzee when he was in his thirties living in a rundown cottage in South Africa with his widowed father; interviewed five people who knew the writer including a married woman whom he had an affair with


Genre
Fiction
Literary
Biographical

Topics
Writers
Biographies
Married women
Love affairs
Identity
Self-discovery
Afrikaners

Setting
England -- Europe
South Africa -- Africa





Shortlisted for the 2009 Man Booker Prize A brilliant new work of fiction from the Nobel Prize-winning author of Disgrace and Diary of a Bad Year A young English biographer is researching a book about the late South African writer John Coetzee, focusing on Coetzee in his thirties, at a time when he was living in a rundown cottage in the Cape Town suburbs with his widowed father-a time, the biographer is convinced, when Coetzee was finding himself as a writer. Never having met the man himself, the biographer interviews five people who knew Coetzee well, including a married woman with whom he had an affair, his cousin Margot, and a Brazilian dancer whose daughter took English lessons with him. These accounts add up to an image of an awkward, reserved, and bookish young man who finds it hard to make meaningful connections with the people around him. Summertime is an inventive and inspired work of fiction that allows J.M. Coetzee to imagine his own life with a critical and unsparing eye, revealing painful moral struggles and attempts to come to grips with what it means to care for another human being. Incisive, elegant, and often surprisingly funny, Summertime is a compelling work by one of today's most esteemed writers. .





J.M. Coetzee's full name is John Michael Coetzee. Born in Cape Town, South Africa, in 1940, Coetzee is a writer and critic who uses the political situation in his homeland as a backdrop for many of his novels. Coetzee published his first work of fiction, Dusklands, in 1974. Another book, Boyhood, loosely chronicles an unhappy time in Coetzee's childhood when his family moved from Cape Town to the more remote and unenlightened city of Worcester. Other Coetzee novels are In the Heart of the Country and Waiting for the Barbarians. Coetzee's critical works include White Writing and Giving Offense: Essays on Censorship. Coetzee is a two-time recipient of the Booker Prize and in 2003, he won the Nobel Literature Award. (Bowker Author Biography) J. M. Coetzee's books include "Boyhood", "Dusklands", "In the Heart of the Country", "Waiting for the Barbarians", "Life & Times of Michael K", "Foe", & "The Master of Petersburg". A professor of general literature at the University of Cape Town, Coetzee has won many literary awards, including the CNA Prize (South Africa's premier literary award), the Booker Prize (twice), the Prix Etranger Femina, the Jerusalem Prize, the Lannan Literary Award, & The Irish Times International Fiction Prize. (Publisher Provided)





In a clever and compelling new novel, Coetzee (Disgrace) probes the life of late South African novelist John Coetzee, whom a young English biographer has begun researching. Coetzee draws on fragments from his own journals to tell the story of a writer. Sandwiched between the journal excerpts are interviews with five people-his cousin Margot, a married woman with whom Coetzee had an affair, a dancer whose young daughter Coetzee taught English, a university colleague, and Martin, a man with whom Coetzee had competed for a university position. From these perspectives, the writer emerges as an introspective loner whose lack of concern for others (demonstrated by his inability to care compassionately for his father, who lives with him) verges on misanthropy. His complete misunderstanding of the workings of the human heart generates writing that is technically playful but dispassionate, yet this distance allows him to peer into the human psyche in ways that others cannot. Verdict Anyone captivated by the themes of distraction and the search for home that characterize the writings of Kafka, W.G. Sebald, Milan Kundera, and Philip Roth will want to travel with Coetzee on this journey toward home. Another brilliant excursion into the nature of writing and the complexities of place and the making of a personal identity. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 9/15/09.]-Henry L. Carrigan Jr., Evanston, IL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.





Nobel laureate and two-time Booker-winner Coetzee has been shortlisted for the third time for this powerful novel, a semisequel to the fictionalized memoirs Boyhood and Youth that takes the form of a young biographer's interviews with colleagues of the late author John Coetzee. To Dr. Julia Frankl, who briefly sought in Coetzee deliverance from her husband, he was "not fully human"; to his cousin, Margot Jonker, he is boring, ridiculous and misguided; and to Sophie Deno'l, an expert in African literature, Coetzee is an underwhelming writer with "no original insight into the human condition." The harshest characterization and also the best of the interviews comes from Adriana Nascimento, a Brazilian emigrant who met Coetzee when both were teachers in Cape Town; she was repulsed by the intellectual's attempts at courtship. "He is nothing," she says, "was nothing... an embarrassment." The biographer's efforts to describe his subject ultimately result in an examination that reaches through fiction and memoir to grasp what the traditional record leaves out. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved





In the Nobel laureate's latest novel, a young English writer is in pursuit of first-person testimony to write a biography of an esteemed novelist named J. M. Coetzee. The Englishman wants to focus on the years 1971-77, a period just before Coetzee's importance was recognized, a time the hopeful biographer finds oddly neglected by other biographers; he sees it as seminal because the novelist was finding his feet. From Coetzee's lover, his cousin, the mother of a pupil to whom Coetzee gave English lessons, a cohort who co-taught a college course with him, and another professional affiliate, the biographer elicits details about the man's relationships, amorous and otherwise. These personal accounts are the material from which readers draw a picture of Coetzee and upon which the biographer will draw for his future composition. The Coetzee emerging here is an emotionally desiccated man never easy with intercourse of any shade, sexual or social. Assumptions on the reader's part of a parallel between the fictitious Coetzee and the actual one are best left alone, because the result can only be confusion and distraction. It is best, then, to simply see the character as just that and then to recognize the author as the admirable builder of character that he is.--Hooper, Brad Copyright 2009 Booklist






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