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.
John Coetzee is dead, and you can feel his relief on almost every page of Summertime. It's hard to imagine a more liberating conceit for an author as private and elusive as J. M. Coetzee, who has artfully constructed a second self through a trilogy of third person "fictionalized memoirs" -- to use his U.K. publisher's inelegant designation -- of which Summertime is the concluding volume. Viking, Coetzee's American publisher, stakes its territory more firmly: "Fiction by the author of Disgrace" declares the book's cover. Clearly, those looking for a faithful rendering of the man in question should consider themselves warned.