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Quarantine: A Novel by Jim Crace
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Quarantine: A Novel (1997)

by Jim Crace

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The story of Jesus and the forty days and forty nights, though with Jesus rather reduced to a side role. Actually this works, and the story becomes much stronger as a result. ( )
  soylentgreen23 | Jul 3, 2016 |
An interesting take on the forty days that Jesus spent fasting in the desert, with a cast of not-quite-storybook characters that you don't want to miss. Provocatively heretical and reverent all at once...my kind of Bible story. ( )
  bibleblaster | Jan 23, 2016 |
An interesting reimagining of Jesus' forty days (quarantine) in the wilderness. The descriptions of dress, social mores, and food all add an authenticity and depth to the story. ( )
  devilish2 | Jan 1, 2016 |
“We are born. We die. Somewhere in between we live. And how we live is up to us. That’s it.”
― Steven Ramirez,

This novel offers an account of Christ's 40-day sojourn in the wilderness. Crace's Jesus is a young man from Galilee, who is seen as too-pious habits by his parents, He has deserted the paternal carpenter's shop and run away to the Judean wilderness in search of God. He arrives with four other quarantineers, each independently and looking to be closer to God, to live for 40 days in a cave, with what food and water they bring or can find. On arrival at the caves they discover a merchant called Musa, who is seriously ill and has been abandoned by his travelling companions, and his oppressed and pregnant wife Miri. Jesus chooses the least accessible cave and means to go without food or water for the whole period.

Musa makes a miraculous recovery who then sets out to cheat the quarantiners, by charging them rent for their cave accommodations and selling them food and water whilst offering protection, exploiting fake piety. In contrast Jesus chooses the least accessible cave of all and intendss to go without food or water for the whole period.

The wilderness setting is beautifully rendered in almost obsessive detail: the geography and geology of the area, its birds and animals, insects and plants, its folk beliefs and superstitions using almost lyrical language employing some interesting, inventive metaphors and similes.

Musa has a vague vision of a resurrected Jesus yet this rapist, bully and swindler alone recognizes a healer who will later argue that it is just such people He has come to heal.

This is an interesting take on novel/fable and a very enjoyable one, although perhaps not for the truly religious amongst us. I particularly liked the character of Musa who despite being a thoroughly immoral individual was probably the most 'honest' amongst the group. ( )
  PilgrimJess | Oct 28, 2015 |
A story of Jesus's time in the wilderness, beautifully written but with a very unpleasant character at the center of it and with Jesus largely an unseen presence. The imagined landscape is quite affecting, though, and the bleakness of the life and the position of women in the society seems plausibly horrifying. ( )
  auntmarge64 | Mar 27, 2015 |
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Miri's husband was shouting in his sleep, not words that she could recognize but simple, blurting fanfares of distress.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0312199511, Paperback)

The story of Jesus's 40 days in the wilderness is surely among the most celebrated and widely diffused narratives in Western culture. Why, then, would Jim Crace choose to retell it in strictly naturalistic, non-miraculous terms? The obvious answer would be that the godless novelist is trying to debunk divinity--to take the entire New Testament down a notch. And at first, this does seem to be the case. Crace's Jesus first got religion as an adolescent, and "was transformed by god like other boys his age were changed by girls." His peers view his spiritual fervor as a youthful eccentricity. Even now, as the thirtysomething Jesus heads out to the Judean desert for his 40-day retreat, he's perceived by his fellow anchorites as a flighty and impractical Galilean. They even call him "Gally" for short--and what sort of deity answers to a nickname?

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:05 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

"A re-imagining of the forty days Christ spent in the wilderness being tempted by the devil." "Judea, about two thousand years ago: There were five of them - not in a group, but strung out along the road where earlier that morning the caravan of uncles had passed by. Three men, a woman, and, too far behind for anyone to guess its gender, a fifth. And this fifth was barefoot, and without a staff. No water-skin, or bag of clothes. No food. A slow, painstaking figure, made thin and watery by the rising, mirage heat, as if someone had thrown a stone into the pool of air through which it walked and ripples had diluted it."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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