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Quarantine: Picador Classic

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  3,215 ratings  ·  283 reviews
Winner of the Whitbread Novel of the Year and a Booker Prize finalist.

Under an endless and unforgiving sky, four travellers enter the Judean desert in search of redemption. Instead, amidst the barren rocks, they are met by a dangerous man, Musa, and fall under his dark influence. But there is a fervent, solitary figure also sharing their landscape, denying the temptations
Paperback, 272 pages
Published June 18th 2015 by Picador (first published June 1997)
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3.69  · 
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 ·  3,215 ratings  ·  283 reviews

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Feb 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biblical, british
Alone But Never Lonely

Quarantine is Crace’s very appropriate term for Jesus’s forty days seclusion in the wilderness shortly after his baptism in the Jordan River. According to all of the synoptic gospels, he is ‘approved’ by God in his earthly mission at that ceremony. Forty days in the life of an individual (or forty years in the life of a people) is an important biblical poetical trope, which Crace appreciates as exactly what it is: a period of fundamental transformation in the nature of one’
Vit Babenco
Mar 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What has one to do in the desert? Why do pilgrims, sinners, hermits and saints go there? Why had Jesus gone to the wilderness?
There was nothing else for Jesus to do, except to simplify his life. Repentance, meditation, prayer. Those were the joys of solitude. They had sustained the prophets for a thousand years. And they would be his daily companions. He started rocking with each word of prayer, putting all his body into it, speaking it out loud, concentrating on the sound, so that no part of hi
Feb 07, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Certainly not Christian fundamentalists
Recommended to Maciek by: Booker shortlist
Jim Crace's short novel Quarantine was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1997, but did not win - it lost to The God of Small Things. Despite not being a long novel - the Penguin edition clocks in at just 243 pages - Quarantine aims to achieve a high goal: retell the story of Jesus's 40 day sojourn in the desert and his temptation by the Devil.

The problem with retellings of well-known stories is precisely the fact that they are well known - the author has to show a certain degree of invention t
Nov 04, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading Jim Grace I feel like he’s very aware of writing in a kind of oral tradition. He’s very attentive to the music and the rhythm of the way that sentences sound like. Even though he uses simple vocabulary the percussion of each sentence is very complicated and Jim Grace attends to it very closely. There’s always a drum beat running through his sentences. They are so musically and rhythmically based that you almost want to tap your feet to them.

I was really charmed by this story. It started
Feb 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone with an open mind towards Christianity
Now this is how you write a gripping book.

Quarantine is what you might call a novel of ideas. It seeks to give an account of Jesus' forty-day sojourn in the desert and to explain how Christianity (or, if you will, the cult of Christ) came into being. While it's not overly blasphemous, it does present its theories in a way to which people who take the New Testament very literally might object. See, for one thing, Crace's Jesus is not the Son of God, but rather a clumsy and all too human carpenter
Jul 30, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dervish fire, serpent's smiling face,
Wind-charred, cave-dreamt, in fasting vow,
Merchant goad, hunger for the now,
Sere masters of the flesh, the base,
Soulless, formless, hell's cracked-shell space,
From body hale now withered bough,
Love's courses ne'er found room enow,
To grow, bound in faith's carapace.

Yep, that's ridiculous, but it truly is about all I can muster for Mr. Crace, a writer who has never yet risen above so-so for me, though I enter each book expecting big things. If The Pesthouse i
Mohit Parikh
Quarantine is a good novel: the writing technique of Jim Crace is flawless, language poetic (reviewers note that he uses iambic meters to control the length of his short sentences), the characters serve their purposes well and the era he creates is too real (supposedly, a forte of Crace). And for these reasons this novel should be picked. I recommend it. I am glad that I read it. BUT, I am also left disappointed.
The author has choosen an easy way out.

The book tells Jesus's story of 40 days of
Sep 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: booker-prizes
The inspiration for the book is the account in the Bible of Jesus's fast and temptation in the desert. Five people are fasting in this story for various reasons, one of them named Jesus. He is the only one who fasts both day and night, the others break their fast after sunset.
The story and characters are both excellent, but the way the author uses biblical sources mixed with normal life makes the book outstanding.
I feel like Jim Crace maybe shot himself in the foot a little bit with this one, as far as the star ratings go - I swung between one and four stars about every thirty pages, which is to say sometimes it was fascinating-unsettling and sometimes it was skin-crawl-unsettling and the latter is Not For Me and that is what one star means.

The skin-crawl was deliberate, though, so Crace definitely did what he set out to do. I'm still not sure I got the rating right. But there comes a point after which i
Rick Urban
Sep 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
....or, "When Good Miracles Happen to Bad People".

Really, I'm being reductive here of a very rich and beautifully written work, full of the most poetic and rhythmic language. And while one of the main characters is a Galilean named Jesus, he is just one of several individuals in the book who are in crisis, and, to my mind, not nearly the most interesting or important.

Crace's meditative and provocative novel is the story of five pilgrims who come to the desert back in ancient times in order to fa
Feb 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1997
Mid 5. This novel is a brilliant illustration of the creative craft and thought-provoking potential of literature. Crace has tackled and successfully surmounted the potentially explosive subject-matter of fictionalising Christ's forty dsys in the wilderness. In doing so, he has so wonderfully captured the rocky desolation of the setting, while humanising the unendurable suffering of the Galilee carpenter's fast. Indeed, the author has blended the human frailty and possible divinity of this chara ...more
Sean Gainford
Jul 16, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A different take on Jesus' 40 days and 40 nights quarantine

A more realistic story on how an eccentric, deeply religious man, with strong will and intelligence, was mistaken to have committed a miracle and then gathered a following of people. Jesus in this story is not a flawless son of God, but very human, with his own human weaknesses and temptations. Crace set himself a difficult task of going in and out of the minds of his 7 characters, but just about pulls it off. Jesus and the greedy, evil
Peregrine 12
Dec 09, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Nobody I know.
A though-provoking book but not enjoyable. (I don't care how many medals it won.) This book had beautiful images and real-seeming characters, but the story itself wasn't that compelling. The writing was quite good (mechanically), but again - not a very gripping story. One man's opinion, anyway.
Valerie Bird
Jan 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
‘Quarantine’ by Jim Crace was recommended to me after my love affair with ‘Harvest’, a novel which I will only lend to the most reliable friends who know of my possessive nature where certain books are concerned.
This novel is of the same quality; the language astonishing, with descriptions of people and place as rich, as vivid. The reader is standing alongside the characters, seeing the same scene, suffering the parched earth, the bitter wind, the blistering sun, the bitter nights, the fear.
Mary D
Mar 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: eb-recommend
Crace takes the story of the 40 days of the temptation of Christ in the Judean desert and remakes it by adding four other travellers who join in with a desire to transform themselves through the same punishing self sacrifice that he refers to as "quarantine". Each individual is looking to get something different out of the 40 day process. There is a Satan figure called Musa who is a wife beating, greedy trader who only cares about money. At one point he actually convinces the group in the desert ...more
Delaney Green
Feb 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jim Crace's prose lifts you to a place that makes you feel wiser and better, yet his characters are real humans with real flaws and problems. Quarantine is an exotic blend of everyday hardship and transcendent faith.

Quarantine takes place about 30 AD in the dry scrub of the Holy Land where people in need of guidance go alone into the wilderness to seek God through a process called quarantine that involves fasting, prayer, and reflection. In the novel, a group of characters loosely band together
Jan 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I suspect that what many fundamentalist Christians find blasphemous about this book is precisely what I found so appealing . It’s an intriguing exploration of the Biblical story of Jesus’ 40 days in the desert and while there are vague similarities and references to the Biblical account, Jim Crace invites the reader to move far beyond what’s found in the Gospels. Reminiscent of Kazantzakis’s “Last Temptation of Christ” Crace’s Jesus is wracked with doubts and uncertainties about who he is, while ...more
Holly (The Grimdragon)
Be well.

As much as I was hoping for a zombie apocalypse novel, this was a retelling of what was reputed to be Christ's 40 day fast in the desert. So.. not what I was expecting, to say the least ^_^

This book is well-written & Crace is wonderful with his attention to detail. I have only read his "The Devil's Larder" prior to this, which was a delicious, erotic collection of short stories which I highly, highly recommend!

This? Well, it all depends. I am not a religious person, so I honestly fo
Mar 20, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quarantine is an interesting book to give it the due credit. It lost to God of Small things at Booker in 1997 and is acclaimed supremely high by critics. At times next to Conrad's Heart of Darkness. Which is where I find myself having reading either the wrong books or reading the right books wrongly.

I found Quarantine Meek and With no beginning and no definitive end. I found it a bit scratching the surface kind of writing wherein there was a scope to hit treasure if only due deeper. The central
Gregory Milliron
I can understand why this book won so many awards. Crace reaches out to the reader with excellent writing and a compelling story. I was not at all troubled by the components of this book which deviated from the traditional story of Jesus in the wilderness, and I feel confident that traveling through this fiction as a "possible explanation" or "reasonable telling" of the story is not the purpose of reading this book. I will say, however, that Crace does very little to tie off loose ends at close ...more
Charles Mercieca
In the inhospitable terrain of the Judean desert, an odd party assembles to fast. The quarantiners each have their reasons, be it to banish cancer or bareness from their womb. Along the way they encounter a young Galilean, who seems much more determined than them.

This novel operates on many different levels. The prose is poetic to an extent that it propels the reader down the page. It humanises Jesus and Satan beautifully and even manages to sneak a commentary on the wicked excesses of capitalis
Apr 02, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general-fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dey Martin
3.5 stars because of the exceptionally creative premise and how the ending unfolded. i disliked that Musa the fat greedy scheming manipulative lecherous merchant was such a big part of the book. but in hindsight this was needed at least in a lesser part to set up the finale. i really ended up hating him.

* i took a half star off because i so disliked the author's extreme overuse of pronouns esp in the chapters about Miri.
Jan 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I ended up liking this a lot better than I thought I would, given the subject matter of Jesus' 40 days in the wilderness. Crace can certainly write and he has created some memorable characters.
This novel about Jesus' desert sojourn is intriguing. Jim Crace adds several twists to the story, the foremost being that his character Jesus isn't the wise man and prophet of the New Testament. He's a naive zealot seeking a closer experience of God in the 40-day "quarantine" he undertakes near a handful of strangers.

"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. He would encounter god or die, that w
Mar 02, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jim Crace's Quarantine is populated with a small cast of unique characters (including Jesus) in one of the most desolate places on earth. Crace does such a marvelous job of creating a believable setting for the novel that I ended reading it feeling like I had just come out of a quarantine myself - slightly overwhelmed, exhausted and with my head spinning.

The start of the book finds four people - three men and one woman - heading into the desert for a forty day quarantine. Each has his or her rea
Dec 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Crace is an atheist, but this book--maybe the one for which he's best known--reimagines the experience of Christ's forty days in the wilderness, during which, according to biblical authority, he was tempted by the devil but rejected his advances. In Crace's version, Jesus isn't in the same place on his life trajectory: he's a much younger man, almost a boy (and he never goes by the name Christ, being referred to by the narrating voice always as "Jesus"). The "devil" is a man named Musa, a mercha ...more
Ronald Morton
Dec 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
On the one hand I hate this conceit in literary fiction – a book is titled with a single word; the word is fairly recognizable, but has a certain amount of ambiguity in its definition; the author presents you with either multiple story lines or multiple characters that all in some way relate to different definitions of the title – but on the other hand Crace does this so well that it’s difficult to get too worked up over it.

At the highest level this is a book about Jesus’s 40 days in the desert.
Oct 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting, unpredictable novel from Jim Crace. An imaginative account of a 40-day quarantine in the Judean wilderness by Jesus, a scoundrel of a merchant, his wife and four other people. They have all come to a particular rocky landscape, where there are caves. All have separately decided to fast for forty days. They meet Musa, a large, controlling merchant. He tempts them all with his produce of dates, fruit and water. With the merchant is his wife, Miri, who is 4 months pregnant, Marta wh ...more
Cindy Marsch
I would be happier with this book thinking of "Jesus" as one of many would-be messiahs in that time, and the work as an imaginative exploration of what people were longing for, what a wilderness pilgrimage might have been, even THAT it might have been a kind of spiritual-eco-tourism of the time. But it winds up getting too mystical to satisfy the connections Crace suggests with the story as we know it from the Gospels.

The descriptions are gorgeous, though, with a wonderful sense of place--the wi
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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
“We only meet the God within our true selves through suffering. We seek the wilderness because in this solitude we can hear ourselves more clearly.” 1 likes
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