In Estrella, David has grown to be a tall ten-year-old who is a natural at soccer, and loves kicking a ball around with his friends. He refuses to do sums and will not read any books except Don Quixote.. One day Julio Fabricante, the director of a nearby orphanage, invites David and his friends to form a proper soccer team. David decides he will leave Simón and Inés to live with Julio, but before long he succumbs to a mysterious illness. In The Death of Jesus, J. M. Coetzee continues to explore the meaning of a world empty of memory but brimming with questions.
This is a ridiculous book. I don’t mean it deserves mockery, but that this...is the final book in a trilogy characterised by absurdity ... It’s in the second half of the book, approaching David’s death and afterwards, that The Death of Jesus achieves its purpose: to conclude the trilogy with force and heart. Through all three books Simón and David look for answers, but Coetzee is asking us to read the trilogy — to read all books — to seek meaning, rather than find it; to understand, paraphrasing TS Eliot, that art communicates before it is understood ... So this is a ridiculous book, full of unexplained developments, unrealistic dialogue and overcooked analogies. Like Don Quixote, it is a fiction about fiction. But many great books are ridiculous, and if The Death of Jesus strikes you in the right place, then you will read its cool, dry final sentences — as I did — with tears in your eyes.
... These are strange novels, easily guyed as clumsy allegories, full of sententious philosophizing, deliberately flatly written, too easily claiming significance through their allusion to the Biblical story. I can only report that I have found them, despite the bafflement, full of truth, irreducible, tearfully moving to read.
In recent years, the project that has consumed Coetzee’s attention is a trilogy of deadpan, present-tense, fable-like fantasies, at once overtly philosophical and utterly cryptic, that culminates in his extraordinary new novel The Death of Jesus ... The Death of Jesus, the best in the series, and the shortest, serves as a reply to the previous book’s extremities ... The novel’s last seven chapters dispel once and for all the suspicion that Coetzee has been simply, or only, playing some kind of game, or mounting a needlessly elaborate homage to a literary tradition powered by the riches of obsessive non-rational thought.