The Childhood of Jesus

Added July 29, 2016
  • The Childhood of Jesus
  • J.M. Coetzee
  • Text Publishing, Australia, 2013

the-childhood-of_-jesus_-front_-cover_ This powerful dystopian novel moves away from Coetzee’s recent semi-aubiographical writing, reminding me of earlier works like The Age of Iron or In the Heart of the Country.

Reviewers loved The Childhood of Jesus, which garnered starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist.

In his Bookforum review, Alex Abramovich said, “The Childhood of Jesus is one of Coetzee’s longest works; it’s full of incident and gripping from the very first page. The book’s setting is dreamlike, and defined not so much by the things it contains as by the things it seems to lack. To some extent, The Childhood of Jesus seems to be a novel about postmodern novels — more precisely, the postmodern novels of J. M. Coetzee. Which is also to say, it collapses the allegorical possibilities, and becomes the thing that it is about. the-childhood-of_-jesus_-back_-cover_ And yet, one senses that there’s more room for faith, imagination, allegory (which keeps sneaking in through the back door), and the occasional miracle — even (unusually, for Coetzee) for the possibility of a happy ending.”

Tim Adams of The Observer thought it to be “…an early contender for an unprecedented third Booker prize.”

This Text Publishing first printing is considered the true first printing, even though it came out just days before the British Harvill Secker first edition. It is in fine/fine condition. Today’s value is about $100. There is a signed Text first edition selling on AbeBooks at the moment for about $225. This is a bargain — Coetzee’s signed books generally cost anywhere from several hundred dollars up to $5,000.

Text is an independent Australian publishing house, so print runs would be on the small side. Over time, these become very scarce. Indeed, the signed first edition copy I mentioned above is only one of three Text first editions for sale on-line right now.

the-childhood-of_-jesus_-copy_ Harvill Secker UK and Viking USA both put out signed limited editions of The Childhood of Jesus. The Viking limited edition is cloth covered in a slipcase. The Harvill Secker one is fully leather bound in a slipcase. If you can find them, these limited editions start at about $750.

Now is definitely the time to pick up a rare signed edition by a very reclusive Nobel laureate. With Coetzee’s upcoming novel The Schooldays of Jesus  on this year’s Booker Prize longlist, the value of The Childhood of Jesus has nowhere to go but up.


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