Category: Fiction / General
Publication date: 13 August 2009
Number of pages: 272
Prizes: Shortlisted for Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2009.
Shortlisted for Prime Minister's Literary Awards (Australia): Fiction 2010.
A young English biographer is working on a book about the late writer, John Coetzee. He plans to focus on the years from 1972-1977 when Coetzee, in his thirties, is sharing a run-down cottage in the suburbs of Cape Town with his widowed father. This, the biographer senses, is the period when he was 'finding his feet as a writer'. Never having met Coetzee, he embarks on a series of interviews with people who were important to him - a married woman with whom he had an affair, his favourite cousin Margot, a Brazilian dancer whose daughter had English lessons with him, former friends and colleagues. From their testimony emerges a portrait of the young Coetzee as an awkward, bookish individual with little talent for opening himself to others. Within the family he is regarded as an outsider, someone who tried to flee the tribe and has now returned, chastened. His insistence on doing manual work, his long hair and beard, rumours that he writes poetry evoke nothing but suspicion in the South Africa of the time. Sometimes heartbreaking, often very funny, "Summertime" shows us a great writer as he limbers up for his task. It completes the majestic trilogy of fictionalised memoir begun with "Boyhood" and "Youth".
What the papers say:
"Coetzee has always been a writer with a cold eye and here he turns that eye on himself...there is something satisfying in the bleakness, in Coetzee's refusal to present the world other than it appears to him, and to subject his character to this cool, unforgiving analysis." Allan Massie, The Scotsman
J.M. Coetzee's work includes Waiting For the Barbarians, Life & Times of Michael K, Boyhood, Youth, Disgrace and Diary of a Bad Year. He was the first author to win the Booker Prize twice and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2003.
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