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Youth's narrator, a student in 1950s South Africa, has long been plotting an escape from his native country. Studying mathematics, reading poetry, saving money, he tries to ensure that when he arrives in the real world he will be prepared to experience life to its full intensity, and transform it into art. Arriving at last in London, however, he finds neither poetry nor romance. Instead he succumbs to the monotony of life as a computer programmer, from which random, loveless affairs offer no relief. Devoid of inspiration, he stops writing and begins a dark pilgrimage in which he is continually tested and continually found wanting. Set against the background of the 1960s, Youth is a remarkable portrait of a consciousness turning in on itself. J. M. Coetzee explores a young man's struggle to find his way in the world with tenderness and a fierce clarity.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780099433620
ISBN-10: 0099433621
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 129mm x 11mm)
Pages: 176
Imprint: Vintage
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 6-Feb-2003
Country of Publication: United Kingdom


UK Kirkus Review » Twice winner of the Booker Prize, J M Coetzee, chronicler of fragile, disrupted individuals and societies, here turns his gaze on a young man whose search for the supposed joys and fulfilments of youth leaves him constantly empty-handed. It is the 1960s, and John is a confused student in his native South Africa. Desperately ashamed of both his country and his family, he longs to escape to one of the poetic European cities he reads about. He manages to reach London, but the city is grey and miserable and his job as a computer programmer for IBM hard and unromantic. Lonely and culturally dislocated, he finds himself unable to write the poetry he hoped to, and his relationships and sexual encounters seem empty compared to the intellectual and hedonistic joys he longs for. This is an astonishingly accomplished deptiction of a youth whose dreams bear no relation to reality and who is struggling to come to terms with himself during a time of great change for the world, both politically and technologically. Cut off from the true companionship of others, his only mental sustenance comes from literature and cinema, which he thinks about obsessively as his mind turns in on itself. Through the consciousness of a man terrified of failure and yet doomed to it we see a bleak landscape of misery and alienation. A masterpiece. (Kirkus UK)

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Author Biography - J. M. Coetzee

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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