JIM Crace has a knack of creating brooding invisible forces that help create a framework beyond the obvious. In his Booker listed Harvest the prime protagonists hardly speak for themselves at all but just infect the narrative with a sense of guilt, evil, puissance.
Victims both, one obviously in the stocks and on the cross, the other as a free spirit who gives the central village a sense of morality, the she-devil who even packs our narrator’s suitcase for him, wordlessly, actions presumed.
And in Quarantine – an odd title for a biblical setting in that the word is according to Oxford dictionary derived from the 17th century italian quarantina meaning 40 days – we have the prospect of a great deal more evil doing.
The first paragraph sets up the nuances:
“Miri’s husband was shouting in his sleep, not words that she could recognise but simple, blurting, fanfares of distress. When, at last, she lit a lamp to discover what was tormenting him, she saw his tongue was black – scorched and sooty. Miri smelled the devil’s eggy dinner roasting on his breath, she heard the snapping of the devil’s kindling in his cough. She put her hand on to his chest; it was soft, damp and hot, like fresh bread. Her husband, Musa, was being baked alive. Good news.”
Not being religious I cannot speak for the inferences of writing about a man named Jesus from Galilee in the text although for once the son of god takes, however much one is tempted to want it differently, second place to some of the of other characters stranded on the scree into which one might read many new parables.