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The Pesthouse

3.48  ·  Rating Details ·  2,026 Ratings  ·  294 Reviews

Jim Crace is a writer of spectacular originality and a command of language that moves a reader effortlessly into the world of his imagination. In The Pesthouse he imagines an America of the future where a man and a woman trek across a devastated and dangerous landscape, finding strength in each other and an unexpected love.

Once the safest, most prosperous place on earth, t

Published (first published 2007)
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Nov 26, 2014 karen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dysto-teque, the-end
if you have read the road, you don't really need to read this. this was to be jim crace's third strike from me. and i don't dislike jim crace, it's just i wasn't moved by either quarantine or being dead. his style is not embracing - it has the same detached, clinical style as hustvedt, which does not cuddle me, as a reader. i need literary slankets that cover all my parts and transport me (but leaving my arms free to wave about)(did i go on about slankets in another review... i feel like i have. ...more
Aug 05, 2016 Kristijan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mnogo volim da čitam distopijske i postapokaliptične romane, što su verovatno svi koji prate moje review-e mogli da skontaju... Neke romane Džima Krejsa odavno imam zahvaljujući tome što čitalački mejnstrim u Srbiji nije prepoznao njegove kvalitete pa ih je Laguna prodavala po niskim cenama... Tek nedavno mi je na listi romana za čitanje skočio na prvo mesto njegov najpoznatiji roman - Quarantine ili Iscelitelj. Iako nije dobio punih pet zvezdica, taj roman me je osvestio - da sam dugo ignorisao ...more
Jim Crace's second novel, The Gift Of Stones , was set in an unnamed village on the English coast at the twilight of the Neolithic period; his eighth,The Pesthouse, moves far into the future, centuries after an unnamed natural disaster has ravaged most of North America.

The event - which apparently consisted of multiple seismic shifts - has destroyed America's infrastructure and demolished her cities and factories, stripping the continent of its industries and technological advances - and stripp
Jason Pettus
Jun 28, 2007 Jason Pettus rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [].)

Longtime followers of my creative projects know that in general I don't like publishing bad reviews; that for the most part I see it as a waste of both my time and yours, in that I could be spending that time instead pointing out great artists you may have never heard of. However, since one of the things this website is dedicated to is honest artistic criticism, I also feel it's important to acknowledge books th
Sep 01, 2007 Anne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Whoa...this book is a trip. I never know what to think when someone says some else's prose is "lyrical" or "hallucinogenic." I only know that this guy is a darn good writer. I'm surprised and not surprised that this book received mixed reviews.

First off, there's that whole "how can a Brit write about America" thing. Well pish-tosh, what Mr. Crace has written isn't just about America. It could have been set in England. Or Germany. Substitute any technologically advanced culture. It works. Eco-di
Jul 11, 2008 Libby rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008-misses
I thought Jim Crace's Being Dead was a phenomenally weird read read, chock o' block with passages of eerie beauty and shivery meditations on mortality. I don't think I "liked it" per se, but I could not get it out of my head. I had never read anything quite like it at the time, and still haven't. So I was super excited when his next novel, The Pesthouse came out, dealing as it does with material I'm particularly fond of: post-apocalyptic wasteland America (maybe it's because of growing up watchi ...more
Apr 01, 2011 Andrew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Poor Jim Crace. Almost every review I’ve read of this book compares it to Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, and I’m going to do the same. Can’t help it. They’re both novels set in post-apocalyptic America with two people struggling to get to the coast, and they both came out at about the same time too. And to me, The Road was better. It was just a brilliant novel, one of the best I’ve read in years. The Pesthouse was good, but suffers from the comparison.

Whereas The Road is set within living memory of
Jan 08, 2009 Cameron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was a nice addition to my post-apocalypse shelf due to the fact that it was primarily a romance novel. But not the harlequin type, fellas; you won't lose any street cred for reading this one.

The setting is many generations after an apocalyptic event that ruined most of North America. Crace doesn't describe the nature of the apocalypse or when it happened (I was guessing around 500 years prior), but these details don't matter. The entire story could have taken place in potato-famine Ire
Aug 24, 2008 Nancy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'd heard of Jim Crace, but this was the first book I read of his, and it was a happy surprise. It's a post-apocalyptic love story between two characters on a pilgrimage to supposed safety. Elements of Mad Max minus the heroics and The Grapes of Wrath, but with warmth.
Rosy Lewis-Ullah
I started reading this book on holiday in 2012. It wasn't interesting enough to continue at the time but I recently came across it and I was curious to see what would happen.
As it turns out, nothing really happens. I did like the different type of post apocalyptic world but it was all very repetitive and quite boring.
May 27, 2007 Mike rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I heard about The Pesthouse on The Diane Rehm Show. I thought the author sounded really interesting and the plot fascinating. But it turns out that the story is about as strong as Diane’s voice. (Oh no he didn’t!) (Oh yes I did!)

Anyway, the story really doesn’t go anywhere and seems to get bogged down with narrative. I honestly can’t find anything remarkable about the book. At the same time, I can’t find anything remarkably terrible about it either. I guess I’d say that reading it was like being
Jun 17, 2016 Ben rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book reads as if Jim Crace's publishers saw how popular The Road was and said "Hey Jim, we'll pay you a bunch of money to write something just like The Road." And he did. And it was bad.

For now I will assume that it doesn't reflect on Jim Crace's less commissioned works.
Aug 01, 2012 Tina rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: bored people who have nothing else to read
Meh. This novel is slow to start, picks up nicely in the middle, then has a crap ending. Sadly, it had a lot of potential. It was like The Road in slow motion with less suspense, toned-down violence, and wimpier characters. And at least in The Road I genuinely liked the man and the boy. In this novel, Margaret was alright, but Franklin was a complete loser. I'm sorry, nice guys in post-apocalyptic wastelands finish last. You need to be ruthless and quick, not plodding and optimistic. My biggest ...more
The Pesthouse is set in the distant future, though I'm not exactly sure how distant. America is a vast wilderness where Americans are infected with sickness and there is a lack of all modern conveniences, including medicines and electricity. People are emigrating from the interior to the east coast in hopes of catching a ship to take them somewhere better, although no one seems to know much about these places beyond the sea, only that things will be better there.

Margaret is infected with the "fl
Eric Rasmussen
The Pesthouse to me was The Road-lite. Same journey towards the coast, same conflict with roving bands of marauders. However, the landscape is quite a bit more pleasant, there's a love story, and no cannibalism. This does not mean it has less of an impact, or is a weaker story, but the parallels are certainly there.

My issue with this book was with its dystopian elements. I am a big fan of the genre, and in the best examples of these books the setting is just as important as the characters. Why t
Aug 19, 2010 Paul rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
Sure, sure, sure, sure, sure sure sure, comparisons to The Road are inevitable and maybe (or maybe not) unfair, but really, what can you say about The Pesthouse, really, other than it just isn't as successful McCarthy's take on postapocalyptia. The approaches are similar, where little is given concerning the cause of the current state of the world, and the focus of the book is two figures crossing a bleak and ruined continent. Crace's book is essentially a love story, though, which I thought was ...more
Andy Smith
Jim Crace is clearly a masterful writer, the prose is beautiful, reminding me in some parts of Cormac McCarthy's dreamy, descriptive style. In fact, The Pesthouse in itself is rather like The Road, only with a bit of colour, optimism and a not-unhappy ending.

I so wanted to like this, if just for Crace's admirable ability as a writer. That said, the long, descriptive paragraphs, full of sentences, skillfully put together, broken by numerous commas, used to say the same thing, again, in another w
This book is very similar to and came out close to the same time as The Road. However, it's not so bleakly dark and has a happy ending rather than a bittersweet one. Rather than a boy and his father pushing a shopping cart to the southern coast, a man and a woman push a barrow to the eastern coast. However, both authors choose to leave America's apocalypse as a mystery of the past.

The Pesthouse is set in a 1000-year-old America which has seen better days. Technology is a thing of the past and li
Jul 22, 2007 Emma rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: done-n-read
Meh. Not so great. Not really worth the read, in my opinion. It's the story of a man and a woman during some unexplained post-apocolyptic future America who are journeying to the ocean in hopes of getting on a boat to Europe, which has now become the destination of choice for all hopeless Americans. Take away the artifice of the post-apocalyptic setting and the story is really a rather shallow and uninspired story that has been done time and again by better authors. I felt like the author never ...more
James Murphy
An interesting novel. A very changed America which everyone wants to leave. There's a flow of migration toward the east coast, a desire to sail to Europe brought about by a vanished way of life and ruined infrastructure. The land is troubled by disease resembling the Black Plague and by roving bands of marauders. The atmosphere is a peasant world returned to folklore and superstition. Crace's language is antiquated, precious. The religious fervor depicted reminded me of Puritan England. I like C ...more
Bookmarks Magazine

Most critics compared The Pesthouse to Cormac McCarthy's Pulitzer Prize?winning The Road (****1/2 Nov/Dec 2006). While The Pesthouse is equally devastating in its postapocalyptic vision, the novel, less spare in its sensory descriptions, contains a mordant wit and rounded female characters. Jim Crace, the author of eight previous novels (including the 2000 National Book Critics Circle Award?winning Being Dead), compellingly chronicles a reverse migration and abandoned moral codes while raising i

Melanie Greene
This guy knows how to make his sentences count. Both Crace novels I've read have been short and strong and well worth the time. He sinks me into his worlds and does an admirable job of playing with his themes & motifs throughout - they're very cohesive objects, these books. I tend to be more enchanted by characters and plots than themes and world building, but when those aspects are as strong as Crace's, I'm happy to shift my allegiances for a while.
Sep 05, 2009 Carmen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
To me, a futuristic dystopian novel is an accurate tale of things that could come if the we (whomever that collective we is in said novel) stays on the same course. It is a critique of ourselves, our goverment(s) and our times.
Although this book falls into that definition, I think that this has been the least engaging one that I have read. The story is slow, I couldn't care less about our two main characters, and the writing was soporific. The two main characters exhibit lapses in logic that ar
Catherine Brown
Feb 23, 2008 Catherine Brown rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jim Crace is a must-read author. Pesthouse is my least-favorite of his books (Being Dead and Quarantine are both better) but it's still worth the read. Set sometime in the future, after some terrible plague has wiped out nearly all of society. The landscape is American, but it's more like the American past -- there are no machines or electronics, no big cities, no gasoline... If you're thinking it's like The Road, don't -- the comparison won't hold -- this book is personal, and a love story -- i ...more
Martin McGovern
I found this book quite engaging. At first you think that the book is set in the 1800s, pioneers in the mid-West of America heading East for better fortune after an apocalypse of some sort. However the more we get into the story it seems that in fact we are some time in the future but America has gone back to basics, clothes, transport, living, even the dialect is 1800s. THe story is interesting enough but the parallels with The Road by Cormack McCarthy are very obvious. Both books revolve aroun ...more
Jul 05, 2014 Xerodog rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I simply like reading Crace because of his descriptiveness. This novel is not as powerful as Being Dead was, but it does tell a story that engages you if you let it. Inevitably there are comparisons with The Road and, yes, the detail of what has happened is missing (how long have people been living this way for the "helpless gentlemen" to have completely lost the use of their arms?); but as a story about two people with good hearts and motivations, I thought he had pulled off a very skillful pie ...more
Apr 10, 2015 Gabe rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well, first allow me to explain a bit why I choose this book. I don't know much about this author, but I was intrigued about the short description that comes with the book. Something about a doomed America, or what is left of a former America and about some emigrants in their quest to emigrate east, towards the old continent supposedly now in a much better shape economically than the Americas...

interesting theme I said to myself, considering now days, the exodus is from east to west, that inclu
Feb 17, 2015 Mitchell rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The Pesthouse is a post-apocalyptic novel set in an unspecified future America. Technology has regressed to a medieval level and brave pilgrims make the journey east to seek ships for passage to a safer, more prosperous Europe. The novel opens with a landslide releasing noxious gases which kill the sleeping inhabitants of Ferrytown, a small river settlement which is a popular waystation for eastbound travellers. The only survivors are Franklin, a young man headed for the coast whose brother left ...more
Mar 18, 2013 Justin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010s
This is the first Jim Crace book I had read for a while. It reminded me slightly of ‘Signals of Distress’ – and i can see why some have drawn parallels between this book and Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Road’. They were both published around the same time, and cover similar territory. The Pest House however has a much less doomy feel to it – despite some fairly horrific scenes. I guess it has a more optimistic outlook. A good story, well told.
Kris McCracken
Aug 13, 2016 Kris McCracken rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One thing that you are guaranteed with a book by Jim Crace is that it's going to be a little bit different. Set in a dystopian future America 500 or 1,000 years hence, after some kind of apocalyptic event - the details are necessarily imprecise.

The World has collapsed into a chaotic dark age, where robber bands, religious sects, nomads, hunters and foragers abound. The remains of the industrial society - long decayed industrial plants, collapsed cities, smashed and broken ships - litter the land
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Apocalypse Whenever: The Pesthouse by Jim Crace 5 42 Jun 22, 2012 06:09AM  
Starting the book. 5 27 Dec 09, 2011 10:00AM  
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James "Jim" Crace is an award-winning English writer. His novel Quarantine, won the Whitbread Novel award and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Harvest won the International Impac Dublin Literary Award, James Tait Black Memorial Prize and was also shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.

Crace grew up in Forty Hill, an area at the far northern point of Greater London, close to Enfield where Cr
More about Jim Crace...

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“...crushed between the fears of going forward and the dread of going back.” 12 likes
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