Friday, March 30, 2007

THE PESTHOUSE by Jim Crace Macmillan Hardcover NZ$50.00

“Everybody died at night.”

This is the opening sentence of Jim Crace’s haunting new novel due for release in New Zealand on 9 May.

A cloud of toxic gas arrives from the depths of a nearby lake to wipe out the entire community of Ferrytown.

One is immediately arrested

Like The Road by Cormac McCarthy, reviewed on my blog earlier this month, The Pesthouse is set in a post-apocalyptic America. Set perhaps 500 or more years into the future the country has entered a dangerous, primitive dark age following an unspecified catastrophe. Written language has gone and a plague of some sort has swept the land causing the population to flee eastwards with a view to reaching the coast and hopefully passage to a better life in some distant place.
The two protagonists, Margaret and Franklin are beautifully drawn as they struggle to survive in a truly awful place, an America beyond any recognition. In a strange sort of way the novel is a love story, the love that develops between these two unusual but appealing characters.

This is a beautifully crafted, deeply disturbing and intense novel that will stay with me for some time to come.

For another view here is Peter Bradshaw’s review that appeared in New Statesman issue of 5 March .

Crace has won many awards including the Whitbread Novel of the Year, US National Book Critics Circle Award, E.M.Fortser Award, the Guardian Fiction Prize and has been shortlisted for the Booker.

Jim Crace’s website can be accessed with this link.

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