The narrator of Youth, a student in the South Africa of the 1950s, has long been plotting an escape from his native country: from the stifling love of his mother, from a father whose failures haunt him, and from what he is sure is impending revolution. Studying mathematics, reading poetry, saving money, he tries to ensure that when he arrives in the real world, wherever that may be, 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. An awkward colonial, a constitutional outsider, he begins a dark pilgrimage in which he is continually tested and continually found wanting. Set against the background of the 1960s - Sharpeville, 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.
J.M. Coetzee's work includes Dusklands, In the Heart of the Country, which won the premier South African literary award, the CNA Prize, Waiting for the Barbarians, which was awarded the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and the CNA Prize, Life and Times of Michael K, which won the Booker Prize and the Prix Etranger Femina, Foe, Age of Iron, which won the Sunday Express Book of the Year Award, The Master of Petersburg, which won the Irish Times International Fiction Award and the memoir Boyhood: Scenes from Provincial Life. His most recent novel, Disgrace, won the Booker Prize, making him the only author to have won it twice.