“Compelling, funny, moving and full of life.”
Here in Summertime, passion exceeds argument. Here for a moment she [the reviewer] answers as a reader not with her head but with her heart.
Delia Falconer, Australian Literary Review
As the [fictional] biography unfolds, the picture that emerges is devastatingly honest, charming, at times funny, but always self critical. The book is not too cool or too neat. It is a stunning achievement by a man at the height of his powers.
Sandy McCutcheon, Courier Mail
“ ... this third volume of fictionalised biographies both odd and brilliantly executed, its main character a distinctly insignificant figure.’
Peter Craven, The Age
“Summertime is an exhilarating read. Like being played with by a magnificent lion whose paws sometimes caress but at other times the muscle and the claw send you spinning. The sly joke is that this lion puts the idea into his text that he, the writer, is inconsequential. Here is a paradox: a man such as this can write words that touch readers at the deepest level.”
Helen Elliot, The Age
“'To my mind,' she adds, 'a talent for words is not enough if you want to be a great writer. You have also to be a great man. And he was not a great man.' In the flesh, JM Coetzee, the prince of self-reproach, may well second this opinion, but I'll object. Summertime is a great experiment from a fine writer and one day, when he dies a second time, the gap will be too vast to fill.”
David Astle, Book Show, Radio National
Summertime is both an elegant request that the sum of Coetzee's existence as a public figure should be looked for only in his writing, and ample evidence, once again, why that request should be honoured.
Thomas Jones, The Guardian
“... you’ll relish a refreshingly amusing and human foible-ridden story.”
Qantas, The Australian Way
Where Summertime evokes South African life in the 1970s, the writing is luminous, revealing intellectual and emotional subtlety of a very high order.
Andrew Riemer, The Sydney Morning Herald
Boyhood is a deeply-felt and utterly compelling account of a South African childhood: the narrative style is as spare and lean as the Karoo flatlands which form its backdrop
‘an extraordinarily crystalline and bleak evocation of London in the 1960s’
Bernard O'Donohue, Irish Times
‘Coetzee's prose is chaste and lyrical - it is a relief to encounter writing as stylish as this.’
‘One of the best novelists alive.’
Is it a cheat to suggest this quasi-memoir by a South African-born Nobel Prize winner as the best work of Australian fiction since the dawn of the new century? Perhaps it shows how problematic those categories have become. Whatever the case, the third volume in the autobiographical trilogy Scenes from a Provincial Life is the best thing Coetzee has written since Disgrace (itself a signal novel of the last quarter-century). A fictional examination of the author's life between 1972 and 1977, constructed by a curious biographer following Coetzee's death, Summertime is built from archival fragments and the invented testimony of men and women who knew him well. The conceit of posthumous authorship permits a liberation of sorts after the grimly censorious third-person perspective of predecessors Boyhood and Youth. Coetzee's trademark melancholy and self-laceration remain, of course. But there is joy here, particularly in those passages dealing with his return as an adult to the Karoo, the harshly beautiful land of his forebears: This place wrenches my heart, he says. It wrenched my heart when I was a child, and I have never been right since. To read lines such as these from Coetzee's pen is like watching a cold-climate plant slowly swivel toward the sun.
Geordie Williamson, The Monthly
August 2, 2010
September 1, 2009
November 1, 2010
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