Book reviews, Pullitzer, Booker, Costa and Children's Book reviews
Book reviews, Pullitzer, Booker, Costa and Children's Book reviews
Prize Winning Fiction
Prize Winning Fiction

1997 Costa Winner

Quarantine by Jim Crace


Publisher:  Picador

Length: 256 pages

About: Version of Jesus's 40 days in the wilderness

Style: 3rd person

Where: Judean desert

When: 2000 years ago


Publisher’s synopsis:

Quarantine is Jim Crace's imaginative and powerful retelling of Christ's fabled 40-day fast in the desert. In Crace's account, Jesus travels to a cluster of arid caves where he crosses paths with a small group of exiles who are on a pilgrimage to find redemption. One wealthy and manipulative quarantiner recognizes characteristics in Christ that he believes are divine. Evoking the strangeness and beauty of the desert landscape, Crace provocatively interprets one of our most important stories.



He was a traveller called Jesus, from the cooler farming valleys in the north, a Galilean, and not one used to deprivation of this kind. He'd spent the night in straw, a shepherd's paying guest, and that morning left his bag, his water skin, his sandals and his stick where he'd slept. His quarantine would be achieved without the comforts and temptations of clothing food and water. He'd put his trust in God as young men do.




Whatever the case, and whatever one's misgivings about the book's rhythms or its interpretation of Jesus, the fact remains that Crace has carried off a daunting task with an artistry and imaginative power that many others – one thinks particularly of Norman Mailer, author of last year's hollow Gospel According to the Son – might well envy.

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Washington Post, Bruce Bawer, 3rd May 1998



Not so good:

The wilderness setting of this story is rendered in obsessive detail: the geography and geology of the area, its birds and animals, insects and plants, its folk beliefs and superstitions. As often with Crace, there are words one needs to look up in a dictionary, and in fact there are some I can't find in any of mine. It doesn't matter; this, for the moment, is his world or continent, and this is its language. The effect is of an almost hallucinatory concentration.

For full review click here

New York Times, Frank Kemode, 12 April 1998



About the author

born 1 March 1946 at Brocket Hall, Hertfordshire, and grew up at the far northern point of Greater London, close to Enfield, where Crace attended Enfield Grammar School. He studied for a degree at the Birmingham College of Commerce (now part of Birmingham City University), where he was enrolled as an external student of the University of London.[1] While at university, Crace edited and contributed to the Birmingham Sun, the newspaper of the Guild of Students, University of Aston. He was awarded an external Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from the University of London in 1968.

Immediately after graduating from university, Crace joined the Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO) and was sent to Khartoum, Sudan, where he assisted writing and producing educational programs for Sudanese Educational Television. Crace traveled through Africa and briefly taught at a village school called Kgosi Kgari Sechele Secondary School in Molepolole, Botswana. Crace’s exposure to other cultures while living abroad in Africa and later while traveling through North and Central America also inspired his later writings.

Two years later he returned to the UK, and worked with the BBC, writing educational programmes and then worked as a freelance journalist for papers including the Sunday Times.


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Page turner







Age guide: 12






Books by same author:

    Continent (seven stories) (1986)

    The Gift of Stones (1988)

    Arcadia (1992)

    Signals of Distress (1994)

    The Slow Digestions of the Night (short stories) (1995)

    Being Dead (1999)

    The Devil's Larder (64 short pieces) (2001)

    Six (2003) (published in the US as Genesis)

    The Pesthouse (2007)

    On Heat (2008)

    All That Follows (2010)

    Harvest (2013)








Stage play 2000 UK




























2016 Pulitzer Prize Winner

It's a massive day in arts and journalism because the 100th annual Pulitzer Prize winners were just announced, and there's a big surprise. 2015's best artistic and nonfiction writing across 21 categories were recognized during a ceremony Monday afternoon at Columbia University in New York City. The first Pulitzer Prize was awarded to Hebert Bayward Swope, a reporter for The New York World, in 1916. (And if you're as big a fan of Newsies as I am, that paper should ring a bell, but try to think of it more positively.)

The major prize for book nerds, the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction went to The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen (Grove Press), a legitimate surprise, if you've been paying attention to the book nerd and industry buzz. The feeling around the prize in the last few months would have you putting all your hard-earned cash down on A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara to take home the award, but that's why you should never gamble. Viet Thanh Nguyen is no less deserving, and moreover, it's his debut novel, which makes it such a wonderful win.

Extract from New York Times to view full article...

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