- Paperback: 176 pages
- Publisher: Vintage (6 Feb. 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0099433621
- ISBN-13: 978-0099433620
- Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.1 x 19.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 79,994 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Youth Paperback – 6 Feb 2003
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"Brilliant...a remarkable feat" (Sunday Times)
"Only a writer as great as J. M. Coetzee is capable of infusing meditation on the spoilt hope of youth with such clarity, fluency and poise... The quality of the writing and its unflinching truthfulness make it exhilarating" (Daily Mail)
"This taut novel possesses the edgy grace that has consistently marked Coetzee's work" (Irish Times)
"Tightly woven, each line detonating with meaning" (Glasgow Herald)
"A memorable picture of the harshness London can offer to incomers... Youth is a wonderful book: a Bildungsroman, or portrait of the artist as a young man, to rank with any in the canon" (Evening Standard)
'One of the finest authors writing in the English language today' The TimesSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Youth is not a book in which very much happens - and that's because it's a book about real life. The real life of a young man finding his feet in an alien country. But the beauty of Youth is not something as mundane as excitement (any book can give you that), it's the truthfulness of the book (I should know: see paragraph 1). It is the most well-realised book I've read in ages, and in its nuances it contains more feeling than library-fuls of other books.
I guess what I'm saying is that you'll either love it - or be bored silly by it. I loved it. Which is fortunate since it seems so much to be the story of my life.
It is a flight from the oppressiveness of his family and the love of his mother - `the bond with the firstborn' -, from the socio-political situation in South-Africa - `an albatross around his neck' - and from mortgage shackles. In one word, it is a flight to freedom.
He arrives in London, but the city turns him into a beaten dog: no work, no stay. He quickly understands that the struggle for life is still going on, that he will have to find his place in the world and that he has to prove that he belongs to this earth.
Intellectually, he is attracted to Pure Thought (mathematics), but he also wants to become a poet. He makes his first encounters (through reading and radio programs) with world literature, e.g. Joseph Brodsky who teaches him that `poetry is truth'.
Sentimentally, he has to fight against his own depths of coldness, callousness, caddishness, his lack of heat and heart. He falls in love with filmdivas, but his own love (better: sex) life is not that of a `fine' author.
In impeccable prose, J.M. Coetzee painted without any shame a very realistic picture of a `Youth-struggle'.
Not to be missed.
He may not be everyone's cup of tea but I think I am beginning to understand why he was made a Nobel laureate. If you already like Coetzee then I would guess that you will love Youth. If you don't know Coetzee this book is a good place to start to understand a true master of the English language.
At the core of his narrator's sense of self, as a young white growing up in the intensely racist South Africa of the 1950s, is a peculiar conviction: that he will be a literary artist, though nothing in his background and education really destines him for the task, and he has only intermittent, wavering belief in his own abilities. Coetzee captures perfectly the vacillations and listlessness of the awkward stage of life in which a person has to decide who they are and what they will do.
In the short term, this conviction is disabling, unfitting him for everyday life and derailing his efforts to construct a viable mode of existence. He drifts through a succession of academic dead ends, unexciting jobs and dysfunctional relationships, each of which terminates in disappointment and self-disgust. Moving in the early '60s from South Africa to England, he seems as much to be fleeing capture by the mundane as actively seeking the centre of literary activity.
Coetzee is a master of the unpalatable truth, and he is quite merciless here at the expense of his younger self, as refracted through his young protagonist. His bone-dry sense of humour has plenty of material to work on: his young man is priggish, naïve, gauche, selfish; and yet in spite of this Coetzee managed to engage my sympathy. There is a sense of truth in the telling of the tale, and there were many moments in which I found myself laughing or wincing in recognition.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very disappointing book. The central character is monotonously uninspiring and I was tired of the contents after persevering to half way. Read morePublished 21 days ago by Lee
Slowly paced, introspective and disconcertingly downbeat, J.M. Coetzee's 'Youth' is a sometimes powerful, but flawed novel. Read morePublished on 7 Jun. 2012 by Mr. D Burin
This is the story: upon finishing university in Cape Town, wanting to escape the tensions in South Africa (it's 1960 or thereabouts) the youth of the title moves to London, where... Read morePublished on 22 Aug. 2010 by Phil O'Sofa
This book by South African writer J. M. Coetzee is not exactly an autobiography, as it recounts a few years of his life, from about the time he was 19 to his mid 20s, during the... Read morePublished on 13 Nov. 2008 by Andres C. Salama
Just a lazy few words to describe this book: Joyless, tedious, depressing, bleak, humorless...climaxing with the statement I wish I hadn't bothered to read it. Read morePublished on 10 Dec. 2007 by Riddley
This is not my Top pick when it comes to Coetzee, although I am very happy to have read it. It's apparant total lack of climax makes the small events seem so much bigger and... Read morePublished on 8 Aug. 2006 by M. K. Enhorning
No question that this book brings out the melancholy in all of us with literary pretensions who have sat typing numbers into computers for years. Read morePublished on 9 Aug. 2004 by Teebs