J.M. Coetzee's The Childhood of Jesus and The Schooldays of Jesus typify the concerns of his later writings. These concerns are crystallized around the concept of life and the dynamic relation between a post-secular valorization of life as sacred and the risk of sacrifice inherent to any attempt to both count, or account, for life. This dynamic is not simply thematized. Rather, through what I am terming Coetzee's literary thinking, the ethico-political import of 'life' in Coetzee's late works is bound up with the question of their meaning as literary works. Accordingly, Coetzee's literary thinking helps to address the interaction of life and form that is at the center of debates about affect and the body, animal and posthuman life, and the formal distinctiveness of the literary work.