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Summertime: Fictionby J. M. Coetzee
Synopses & Reviews
Nobel Prize-winning author J. M. Coetzee's new book follows a young biographer as he works on a book about the late writer, John Coetzee. The biographer embarks on a series of interviews with people who were important to Coetzee during the period when he was "finding his feet as a writer" in his thirties and sharing a run-down cottage in the suburbs of Cape Town with his widowed father. Their testimonies create an image of an awkward, reserved, and bookish young man who finds it difficult to connect with the people around him. An innovative and inspired work of fiction — incisive, elegant, and often surprisingly funny — Summertime allows one of the most revered writers of our time to imagine his own life with a critical and unsparing eye.
"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 Denol, 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." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Not since Disgrace has he written with such urgency and feeling." The New Yorker
"Another brilliant excursion into the nature of writing and the complexities of place and the making of a personal identity." Library Journal
"This is the third instalment of a life so reserved, so repressed, so seething with polite rage and restrained despair that it could only be approached through a third-person voice...it is wonderful stuff. But then, Coetzee is wonderful: edgy, black, remorselessly human, witty, and often outright funny....Summertime is offbeat and deliberate, elusive and truthful." Irish Times
"The cumulative effect of Coetzee's unblinking honesty and his never-wavering seriousness is an understanding of the creation of a great writer." Sunday Telegraph
"Coetzee's austere integrity and terse candor make this the best yet of his ongoing self-interrogations." Kirkus Reviews
An innovative and inspired work of fiction, this book by the Nobel Prize-winning author of Disgrace allows one of the most revered writers of our time to imagine his own life with a critical and unsparing eye. A Man Booker Prize finalist.
Published for the very first time, an early novel by Nobel laureate and literary master José Saramago that tells the intertwined stories of the residents of a faded Lisbon apartment building in the late 1940s.
“The inklings of Saramago’s style swell throughout . . . Skylight shines.” — New York Times
“Unmistakably Saramago . . . There is no shortage of wonders to be found in [Skylight].” — Washington Post
“A fascinating and startlingly mature work . . . The book is a gem.” — Boston Globe
Lisbon, late 1940s. The inhabitants of a faded apartment building are struggling to make ends meet: Silvio the cobbler and his wife take in a disaffected young lodger; Dona Lídia, a retired prostitute, is kept by a businessman with a roving eye. Humble salesman Emilio’s Spanish wife is in a permanent rage; beautiful Claudinha’s boss lusts for her; Justina and her womanizer husband live at war with each other. Happy marriages, abusive relationships, jealousy, gossip, love—Skylight is a portrait of ordinary people painted by the master of the quotidian, a great observer of the immense beauty and profound hardship of the modern world.
“The gifted young Saramago makes these characters click together in a way that's extremely sympathetic.” — NPR, All Things Considered
“It was only a matter of time before a work of such extraordinary honesty and perception would make its way into the world.” — San Francisco Chronicle
“Saramago’s novel is a delightful creation of characters with universal appeal.”—Library Journal, starred review
“A masterly creation.” —Independent
“The rescue of this novel from oblivion is something to be grateful for.” —Times Literary Supplement
Lisbon, late 1940s. The inhabitants of a faded apartment building are struggling to make ends meet: Silvestre the cobbler and his wife take in a disaffected young lodger; Dona Lídia, who used to work the streets, is now kept by a businessman with a roving eye. The cultivated family of Dona Cândida, come down in the world, keep to themselves with their books and music. Emilio the humble salesman has a Spanish wife who’s in a permanent rage; Claudinha the beautiful young typist has a boss who lusts for her; Justina and her womanizer husband live at war with each other.
Happy marriages, abusive relationships, jealousy, gossip, love—Skylight is a portrait of ordinary people painted by the master of the quotidian, a great observer of the immense beauty and profound hardship of the modern world.
About the Author
The author of eighteen books, J. M. Coetzee has won many literary awards including the Booker Prize, the Prix Étranger Femina, and the Jerusalem Prize. A native of South Africa, he now lives in Adelaide, Australia.
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