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Quarantine: A Novel Paperback – March 15, 1999
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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 neighbors--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 center 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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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To me, the truly commanding figure in 'Quarantine' is Musa, an unscrupulous merchant with a twisted Midas touch. His abusiveness, greediness, and manipulations let the other characters--his submissive wife, an ailing Jewish old man, an arrogant Greek is search of enlightment, a barren woman in search of fertily, and a simpleton--manifest themselves in their hopes and disappointments. Moreover, he is the one who, in his own obsession (a product of a serendipitous act), constantly tempts Jesus with comfort and food. In other words, Musa is the necessary evil through which the lives of the other characters, and the 'holiness' of Jesus, acquire meaning.
The language of the entire novel is superb and effortless, giving a sense of fluidity that at times hides the intricacies of the interactions among the characters and their inner life. The desert is also beautifully described, in all its barrenness and cruelty. I have rarely encountered such compelling language in other novels, and I absolutely enjoyed it.
'Quarantine', in short, is an interesting novel to read. It leaves the reader thinking about the moral issues raised for a long time, making him or her go back to re-read certain passages. I thoroughly recommend it. I'm sure that it would generate a wealth of fruitful ideas for debate on the meaning and nature of the religious experience.
While not exactly inspirational, and definitely morally ambiguous, the events that lead upto the last 20 pages or so are perfect; Crace's handling of what happens with Jesus and Musa after the former's "death," and the emancipation of Musa's wife and the woman he raped, are far superior to anything I have read in a long time. Although the prose is a bit dry at times, that actually turns to its advantage at the end, where it is all-important to be understated. I highly recommend this book.
But unlike a previous reviewer, I didn't detect even a smidgen of stereotyping of Arab culture. I read that review prior to buying the book, and was fully prepared for some prejudicial characterization, but I couldn't find any whatsoever. All the characters in here are truly universal -- Miri's subservience to and concealed hatred of her husband, Musa's mercantilistic thinking and amorality, and so on. I would have no problem at all imagining Miri as a modern, oppressed Western housewife and Musa as a domineering, conceited middle manager. Just because not all the characters here are admirable doesn't mean they're stereotypes. Such accusations about books and movies usually have at least some merit, but for _Quarantine_ they're completely unjustified, and seem a bit paranoid, actually.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
In this book:
Jesus is unsure
Jesus is always frightened
Jesus is antisocial
Jesus teaches nothing
Jesus dies in the desert
God is spelled... Read more
Some wonderful ironies. Jesus, on arriving in the wilderness, brings back to life an absolute turd of a man, Musa, who brutalises his pregnant wife and bludgeons his donkey to... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Bronwen Jones
A fascinating retelling of Jesus' 40 days in the wilderness--or is it? To tell much about it would spoil it for anyone interested. Read morePublished 2 months ago by ilovevt
It has been awhile since I read this book but when I did, I remember that it was very different but good. A thought provoking book.Published 9 months ago by alicia loveland
A novel approach and beautifully written. Asks important questions of faith. But I'm a believer just the same.Published 10 months ago by crgardner
Hard to figure out what was in the author's head when this book was being written. Kind of a cross between historical fiction and a trashy novel. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Frequent Traveler
Crace has always been a favorite, and this unusual rendering of Christ's time in the desert is profoundly moving and deeply spiritual. Read morePublished 15 months ago by El Viejo Topo
Oh my. I am enjoying this book so much! I first fell in love with Jim Crace when I read Being Dead, and now this book equally enthralls me. Read morePublished 15 months ago by E. Holden
Jim Crace is certainly a powerful writer but some readers might find his intensity a bit hard going. Read morePublished 16 months ago by John Fitzpatrick