Juventud / Youth
J.M. Coetzee
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Juventud / Youth (Scenes from Provincial Life #2)

3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  3,232 ratings  ·  182 reviews
After the brooding, dark menace of his Booker Prize-winning novel Disgrace, J.M. Coetzee's Youth is a slighter, more restrained work. Written in succinct, almost cold prose, it's a painfully maudlin bildsrungsroman that explores the dreary follies of youth rather than its more celebrated joys. The unprepossessing protagonist John is a South African mathematics graduate wit...more
Paperback, 205 pages
Published February 28th 2006 by Random House Mondadori (first published January 1st 2002)
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Oct 11, 2011 Shovelmonkey1 rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who want a book to fit into their navel
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: 1001 books list and danielle23
Shelves: 1001-books
From the book cover:
Set against the background of the 1960's - Sharpeville and the Cuban Missile Crisis, Vietnam - Youth is a remarkable portrait of a consciousness, isolated and adrift, 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.


When I first started reading this book my first thought was, Dawsons Creek, with aspergers set in the 1960's. To much youthful angst and introverted navel gazing highlighted by...more
"Youth" is a portrait of an artist as a young man - struggling to find his way.
Maybe I will just start with a quote;

"At 18 he might have been a poet. Now he is not a poet, not a writer, not an artist. He is a computer programmer, a 24year old computer programmer in a world where there are (yet) no 30 year old computer programmers. At 31 he is too old to be a programmer: one turns oneself into something else - some kind of businessman - or shoots oneself" Coetzee.

Darn. I have 7 foolscap pages of...more
Just reread it. The ending was pretty devastating. The whole book was really. I don't generally care for coming-of-age stories but Coetzee is such a fascinating individual to me (maybe because I'm a fellow uber-rational, emotional cripple)...

"She writes every week but he does not write every week in return. That would be too much like

"He has a horror of spilling mere emotion on to the page. Once it has begun to spill out he would not know how to stop it. It would be like severing...more
By page 115 of this slim fictional memoir, Coetzee had convinced me that he's a beautiful writer. He manages to avoid corniness, even though he's describing the inner narrative of an ex-pat wannabe poet (recipe for sappy disaster). There are some ethical musings in here which are quite good and I like the whole construct of an author describing a fictional character's interaction with other authors. It achieves a distance between Coetzee and his pathetic, miserable hero that is compelling. There...more
This is the most autobigraphical book i related to on so many levels, however reluctant i am to admit that. Its a rather bleak book with such raw honesty and rhetoric questions. This is my first book by Coetzee, and i absolutely love it, his way of exploring so much striking truth in this short sentences, going straight into the consciousness of the 19 year old in London. I find myself enjoying it and finishing it fast, probably the fastest i have ever finished a book. The pretentiousness of an...more
Lukasz Pruski
Maybe I am just bored with J.M. Coetzee's utter literary perfection, but I will not rate "Youth" with five stars. Clearly, it is a five-star work in any reasonable scale, but not when compared with "Disgrace", "Waiting for the Barbarians", or "Boyhood". To me, "Youth" is a great book, yet a tiny bit short of a masterpiece.

Like "Boyhood", this book is a fictionalized autobiography. It covers the period from 1959 to 1963 or so, meaning that "he" (the author writes about himself in the third person...more
Christy S
I believe it was Mary Knott, librarian and friend, who recommended this author to me. In my usual pickiness over fiction, I probably would not have had the joy of reading it had it not been one of my only options to trade for at a hostal we passed through.

I am not often a reader of fiction, and so it is sometimes hard for me to describe how I experience it (do I say this in all of my reviews of fiction?). This book is about the 1960s, London, South Africa, and work. But Coetzee has primarily wri...more
Isaac VR
Una de las novelas más ñoñas jamás escritas. Los escritores suelen hacerlo en sus memorias, pero tiene sentido: no todos los escritores son Burroughs ni todos se pasaron la mitad de su vida enajenados con una bolsa de correspondencia al hombro. Las confesiones de juventud (ficticias o reales, no me importa) suelen ser una ñoñería, sin embargo esto no significa que no estén escritas con una prosa bien lograda, como de una persona que ha trabajado en su voz narrativa (tiene un Nobel, coño).
Sean de la Rosa
This second instalment in Coetzees autobiography tells of a young man making his way to London as a novice computer programmer. The moments of extreme loneliness, uncertainty and poor spirit experienced made me reminisce a lot about my own sojourning in Europe a few years ago. The book provides some interesting reflections on apartheid in South Africa from a foreigners perspective.

I am amazed at the ease of Coetzees prose. The honesty and clarity of his writing combined with a strong South Afri...more
Coetzee’s Youth is about aSouth African Mathematics student, who flees his politically instable countryto work as a computer programmer in the United Kingdom of the 1950s. Hisambitions there is to follow his idles TS Eliot and Ezra pound, and become apoet, in England, which was the home of most of the greatest poets of theEnglish language. Instead this work is dull, and England has a greater need for his services as an employee, than for his artistic talent. Poems will not increase the country’...more
My least favorite kind of fiction: the journey into the self without any intention of emerging with a broader message. Perhaps it's because I'm still married to the Victorian novels that are massive social critiques couched in domestic narratives, but I find this kind of psychological, post-Proust fiction deeply unsatisfying. Especially since Coetzee [remember Barbarians and Disgrace?:] has it in him to do more, to take this portrait of a young student and make it "about" something: options in t...more
This novella concerns John, a young man who has graduated from the University of Cape Town with a degree in Mathematics. John is unhappy with the treatment of the black population of South Africa. He also fears the polictical unrest of his native country, and so, moves to England. The story follows John through his youthful dreams of a successful career as a writer. To survive, he takes a dreary job with IBM. He attempts to fashion his life in the style of his favorite writers, but soon finds he...more
To detail the plot very simply Youth tells the story of a white man from South Africa who escapes to London thinking hoping like one usually does when one moves to a fancy town, of great adventures but ends up becoming one of the many soul less faces of the newly booming IT industry.

But then, no one reads a Coetzee for the plot. Though, it is credible how he weaves the plot through so many voices. Youth has two voices – the youth’s and the narrator’s. And it becomes difficult sometimes to tell t...more
An apparently autobiographical account of a young South African of Boer descent who moves to London at the start of the 60s. He finds the fun being had at the dawn of the era of liberation somewhat eludes him, partly for his morose temperament, provincialness and social and sexual awkwardness but partly because the life of the Bohemian poet in practice (as opposed to his fantasies) repels him.
Accordingly he buys a suit and takes a job as a fledgling programmer with IBM, then (as now) about the l...more
Mrinal Rai
Apart from a rare use of character's name (i think twice) throughout the novel, it is the demanding gaze of character on himself that put this work at different pedestal from many contemporary good fiction. John is a mathematician who revels in words and believes in art rather than science. He believes art demands intimacy, passion, love as well. The almost confused and disillusioned John is very certain of the various markers of creativity. He reads, ponders and thinks of emulating but never ac...more
Gerald Camp
This seems to be the middle installment of Coetzee's fictionalized autobiography. Beautifully written and engaging, though somewhat depressing. I will certainly want to read the previous installment, Boyhood, and whatever comes after this one.
Martin Boyle
Perhaps it was a problem of reading volume two of a fictionalised memoir before the first? I was massively disappointed by this book. The characters and the plot are thin and unconvincing and there did not feel to be any substance behind it at all. For a short (and quick) read, I found myself bored (a bit like the the lead character?) and wondering if there was any message in the story and if it was really worth the effort finishing it.

Yes, there were some mildly interesting caricatures and some...more
El joven Coetzee, para poder ser poeta, se va de Sudáfrica a Inglaterra. Me gustó mucho cómo lo cuenta, en especial en esta pregunta que se hace allá: "¿Por qué en este país las grandes palabras parecen fuera de lugar?"
Paulo Fehlauer
Saw myself on the last chapter.
This book is not as good as Disgrace or Michael K. Probably because the subject matter of Youth, a young guy trying to pursue the artist pursuit of writing while maintaining a "normal" office job, is not as shocking or provocative as that of Deisgrace and Michael K. Despite the fact Youth doesn't feel like a "real" (award winning) Coetzee, it is a great book. It is definitely a light read but I really enjoyed it. There were moments when it felt like the story cut close to the bone - my bones. At...more
Ketzē pieeja autobiogrāfijai ir krietni citāda kā Petijai Smitai. Te nav nekādas romantizēšanas, nekādas pagātnes glorifikācijas. Tieši otrādi: jaunietis Ketzē vispirms ir smieklīgs dunduks, tad kļūst par grūti izturamu dunduku un visbeidzot neizprotamā veidā, nemainoties uzvedībai, pamanās radīt simpātijas un klusu traģēdijas apziņu. Dzimto Keiptaunu viņš pamet 22 gadu vecumā, dodoties uz Londonu kļūt par ģeniālu dzejnieku un atrast mūža mīlestību. Patiesībā darbos un pelēkajās Londonas dienās...more
Ik moet het boek nog tegenkomen waardoor Coetzee als ontvanger van de Nobelprijs "gerechtvaardigd" kan worden. Dit kan pretentieus overkomen, maar ik kan er niet aan doen: ik erger me meer en meer aan zijn manier van schrijven. Of nee, eerder aan zijn onderwerpkeuze.

Pas maakte ik, dankzij Kim, kennis met Coetzee in een interview bij Zomergasten op de VPRO met Johan Simons. Ik vond hem geweldig. Ik begreep dat hij moeite had met zich uit te drukken; op die manier heb ik vaak ook last van taal -...more
It was only midway through the book that I realized that "Youth" is the second part of a trilogy which is a fictionalized memoir of Coetzee's own life. Though it's a slim book, I don't recollect spending as much time reading a similar sized book as I did on this in recent times. A young 20 something mathematician and aspiring artist decides to leave South Africa for good and lands up in London in the hope of immersing himself in a world of high art and sophistication. But to achieve that, one hu...more
This is a small beautiful book by Coetzzee. I had read it in the past and had enjoyed it a lot. Recently I reread it. It was quite engrossing even during the second read.

Reason I seem to enjoy this book is due to its quiet and understated grace and charm, its growing up narrator with his peculiarities: an Afrikaner (dutch s. African), detached from community and family not in unhealthy way, his career starting as a programmer (1 yr at ibm and another at intl. computers) , autodidact , his awkwa...more
Justin Evans
You'd think that there'd be more action in the second part of a kind-of-auto biography, and in one sense there is more action here than in Boyhood. He has various jobs, he moves overseas, he has depressing sex with a great number of women while convincing himself that he's a complete failure with women. But for all that it's less affecting, as if the need to tell the 'story' over-rides what made Boyhood great. There's still lots going on... perhaps it's just harder to have anything but contempt...more
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To call Coetzee's "Youth" a disappointment after his "Boyhood" isn't quite accurate. "Boyhood" is a sweet and sour book, a thorough investigation of childhood in an exotic clime. Coetzee and I have much in common -- unusual, "provincial" upbringing and pensive natures; as children, we were terrified of other children. We each have one male sibling. We both yearned for big-city life and condescended to small-town people. We both resented the requirement to be children at all.

"Youth" is like a Hen...more
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Na faculdade de Letras a gente aprende que justificar a presença de qualquer elemento em determinada obra usando apenas a biografia do autor é empobrecer o sentido do texto. Porém, durante a leitura de Juventude, romance do sul africano J.M Coetzee, eu me peguei fazendo isso diversas vezes e querendo me chutar por cair em um dos erros mais primários que alguém pode cometer. É claro que há ficção e criação literária ali. Do contrário não estaríamos lendo um romance e sim uma autobiografia. Embora...more
Knowing that J. M. Coetzee won the Nobel Prize in Literature several years ago, I undertook to discover his books, and YOUTH was the first I read. Written in 2002, Youth is a fictionalized biography of Coetzee's adolescence, beginning in 1959 and ending around 1964.

As the book open the protagonist, whose name is John but who is usually referred to simply with the male pronoun "he", is a student of mathematics in a university in South Africa. He is also a would-be poet and a passionate lover of l...more
One sign of a good story is, it stirs your own reflection about yourself. Ever so deeply.

This is a story, effectively written, about a young man with an aspiration to be poet, educated in Mathematics, fleeing his home country of South Africa. He adopted a new home in London, taking errand jobs to survive and established himself by working as a computer programmer, in the 60s where there was no thirty year old programmers. Struggling with the classical immigrant problems, like alienation and lone...more
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John Maxwell Coetzee is an author and academic from South Africa. He is now an Australian citizen and lives in South Australia.
A novelist and literary critic as well as a translator, Coetzee has won the Booker Prize twice and was awarded the 2003 Nobel Prize in Literature.
More about J.M. Coetzee...
Disgrace Waiting for the Barbarians Life and Times of Michael K Slow Man Elizabeth Costello

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“But he cannot see a connection between the end of yearning and the end of poetry. Is that what growing up amounts to: growing out of yearning, of passion, of all intensities of the soul?” 14 likes
“What more is required than a kind of stupid, insensitive doggedness, as lover, as writer, together with a readiness to fail and fail again?” 1 likes
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