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Crace, Jim Quarantine ISBN 13: 9781447275145

Quarantine - Softcover

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With an introduction by Stuart Evers

So this is happiness, she thought. Or this, at least, is what adds up to happiness. The prospect of never running after men and camels any more, of being Miri without shame or hesitation, of letting drop her headscarf for a change so that nothing intervened between her and the sky.

Five travellers venture into the Judean wilderness in search of redemption. Instead, amidst the barren rocks, they are met by a dangerous man, Musa, and fall under his dark influence. As the unforgiving days and bitter nights erode their resolve, it becomes clear that one among them will go further than the rest: a fervent, solitary figure, he denies the temptations of his neighbours, and, ultimately, the needs of his own body.

Quarantine, Jim Crace's provocative retelling of Jesus' forty day fast in the desert, won the Whitbread novel of the year and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. Moving and fascinating in equal measure, this is a classic that tampers with tradition, a stunningly realised novel from one of the great writers of our time.

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Review:
The story of Jesus's 40 days in the wilderness is surely among the most celebrated and widely diffused narratives in Western culture. Why, then, would Jim Crace choose to retell it in strictly naturalistic, non-miraculous terms? The obvious answer would be that the godless novelist is trying to debunk divinity--to take the entire New Testament down a notch. And at first, this does seem to be the case. Crace's Jesus first got religion as an adolescent, and "was transformed by god like other boys his age were changed by girls." His peers view his spiritual fervour as a youthful eccentricity. Even now, as the thirtysomething Jesus heads out to the Judaean desert for his 40-day retreat, he's perceived by his fellow anchorites as a flighty and impractical Galilean. They even call him "Gally" for short--and what sort of deity answers to a nickname?

Yet Crace is hardly the jeering materialist we might expect. As Jesus takes to his cliff-top cave, the author renders his religious transports without a hint of irony, and with a linguistic elegance that can hardly be called disrespectful: "The prayers were in command of him. He shouted out across the valley, happy with the noise he made. The common words lost hold of sound. The consonants collapsed. He called on god to join him in the cave with all the noises that his lips could make. He called with all the voices in his throat." And while most of the temptations of Christ are visited upon him by humans--by the motley crew of his cave-dwelling neighbours-- he resists them with what we can only call superhuman will. Quarantine does, of course, operate on a fairly realistic plane. Jesus dies of starvation long before his 40-day fast is complete, and his fellow retreatants, who take centre stage throughout much of the novel, are much too confused and brutal ever to figure in any Sunday school pageant. Still, Crace leaves at least the possibility of resurrection intact at the end, which should ensure that his brilliant book will rattle both believers and non-believers alike.

Review:
‘Dazzling, gritty brilliance. This is a novel of scorching distinction’ Sunday Times

‘Stunning. A writer of hallucinatory skill’ John Updike

‘One of the finest novels I’ve read in years’ The Times

‘Absolutely compelling’ Observer

‘Completely captivating’ Literary Review

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  • PublisherPicador
  • Publication date2015
  • ISBN 10 1447275144
  • ISBN 13 9781447275145
  • BindingPaperback
  • Number of pages272
  • Rating
    3.69 avg rating
    ( 3,885 ratings by Goodreads )

Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780312199517: Quarantine

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ISBN 10:  ISBN 13:  9780312199517
Publisher: Picador, 1999
Softcover

9781447250333: Quarantine

Picador, 2013
Softcover

9780374239626: Quarantine

Farrar..., 1999
Hardcover

9780140239744: Quarantine

Penguin, 1998
Softcover

9780670856978: Quarantine

Viking, 1997
Hardcover

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