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Only the crazy make it

Thomas Jones: Jim Crace, 8 March 2007

The Pesthouse 
by Jim Crace.
Picador, 309 pp., £16.99, March 2007, 978 0 330 44562 7
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... In Jim Crace’s most celebrated novel, Quarantine, seven strangers spend a month together – or if not exactly together, then in close proximity to one another – in the Judaean desert. Four of them have come to spend forty days in fasting and contemplation in the hope of a miracle: an old stonemason from Jerusalem, dying of cancer; a woman who thinks she is unable to conceive, just like her husband’s previous wife; a young man looking for something he can’t quite name, something more than a meeting with God, something beyond enlightenment; a ‘badu’, a wild man from the deserts to the south, who the others think is mad but turns out instead to be deaf ...

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