ne of the truly transcendent moments (in more ways than one) in Jim Crace’s ” Quarantine,” his Whitbread Prize-winning novel about Christ’s Being Dead has ratings and reviews. Tyler said: Craft and good writing make this book a hit with many readers. Innovative form and thinking pro. Being Dead is a novel by the English writer Jim Crace, published in Its principal characters are married zoologists Joseph and Celice and their daughter .

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Thirty years have passed since Joseph and Celice met as zoology students on a field trip to Baritone Bay. Joseph, keen to find the bein in the dunes of their first lovemaking, leads Celice on a nostalgic return visit to the Bay, but the couple are murdered by a passing thief.

Undiscovered for days, the bodies become prey to sand-crabs, flies and gulls. One strand moves backwards from the point of the murder to describe the events that immediately led up to it. The third strand describes in scrupulous detail the effect of the elements and the processes of decay on their undiscovered bodies.

But brief as it isBeing Dead defies easy summary or analysis. The basic situation — two dead bodies on a beach — is unpromising.

Being Dead, Jim Crace

None of the characters is especially sympathetic. The four narrative strands are constantly interrupting each other. Yet the novel as a whole is extremely effective. The steady reversion to nature of Joseph and Celice turns beiing to be full of dramatic incident, on a scale that we are not used to observing.


Coetzee, whose novel Disgrace won the Booker Prize. Both writers find a harsh beauty in knowledge and acceptance of the void; but Craceunlike Coetzee, also consoles us with the play of language and the possibility of love.

One of the most thought-provoking comments about the novel comes from Crace himself. In a profile in the Times he told Jason Cowley: Both novels have at their heart dead, decomposing human bodies.

For an introduction to Quarantine by Jim Craceclick here. In Being Deaddeax bodies of Joseph and Celice are the starting-point and also, because of the looping structure of the book, its climax. Structurally Being Dead suggests a kind of race between natural and human agents working, on the one hand, literally to devour Joseph and Celice and reclaim them for the nature and, on the other, to find them and restore them to the world of human relationships and meaning.

Being Dead

The back-and-forth structure also belng the motion of the tides — Celice is director of something called the Tidal Institute. The strands that move forward from the murder alternate between the decay of the bodies and the search for them.

In the natural world, however, Joseph and Celice have simply become food and fertiliser for their fellow-organisms. Many of the chapters of Being Dead are captioned with a date and precise time.

Being Dead charts the reverse process: To read his thoughts in full, click here. To read her review, click here. Reverent, if anything, and thanks to Mr. The Latin saying “Nothing human is alien to me,” he extends to “Nothing human is dead to me, not even death. Few novels are as unsparing as this one in presenting the ephemerality of love given the implacability of death, and few are as moving in depicting the undiminished achievement love nevertheless represents…” Click here to read the full review.


Jonathan Desd calls Crace “an active, living anatomist of love” in his review for the Los Angeles Times April 16, Click here to go to the LA Desd there is a fee for archived stories. Banville also suggests that one of the key images of the book — Dewd hand resting on Celice’s body — may be a reference to Philip Larkin’s poem An Arundel Tomb.

Quivering | Books | The Guardian

For a collection of highlights from the US reviews of Being Dead, click here. The sort of novel that suggests the universe through a grain of sand, Being Dead draws an insular, almost post- lapsarian world, where everything is known and so meaning and significance must be created anew.

There are no less than three Jim Crace discussions at Readerville. Click here to find out more.

For the naturalist as for the believer, there is a peace that passes understanding. No, I cannot allow myself to be hopeful. I have to force myself to be realistic. The fiction shortlist is immensely strong: Maybe, just maybe, this national circle of critics comprises “my people”, similarly disadvantaged. If I do — if I have – then look around the room and see if you can spot exactly who amongst the NBCC members deserves my startled, heart-felt and delighted thanks.

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