The Schooldays of Jesus is not, as it happens, about the schooldays of Jesus. It is the Man Booker-nominated sequel to The Childhood of Jesus (which, you guessed it, did not once refer to the childhood of Jesus either). J.M. Coetzee is now so much part of the literary pantheon, so liable to be rewarded by the critical classes and the academic industry surrounding him, that he no longer needs to worry about basics such as having a title that makes sense.
He should still worry, one feels, about telling a story worth following. Like its predecessor, his new novel is set in a nameless Spanish-speaking province; a Kafkaesque, ‘featureless’ and ‘dreary’ place. It is pre-technological in the sense that people have to use telephone boxes and can only listen to one of two radio stations (nobody stops to order a chai latte, for example,
or Facebook their friends), but otherwise timeless.