Home / Books / Continent (1986) / The Gift of Stones (1988) / Arcadia (1992) / Signals of Distress (1994) / Quarantine (1997) / Being Dead (1999) / US reviews

Extracts from the reviews of Being Dead in the USA:


Crace is a brilliant British writer whose novels are always varied in historical setting, voice, theme and writing style, and are surprising in content…This latest, sixth effort, a stunning look at two people at the moment of their deaths, is the riskiest of his works, the most mesmerizing and the most deeply felt. His finesse in drawing character is matched by the depth of his knowledge and imagination, and the honesty of his bleak vision…In juxtaposing the remorselessness of nature against the hopes, desires and conflicted emotions of individuals, Crace gracefully integrates the facts and myths about the end of human life, and its transcendence, into a narrative of dazzling virtuosity.

Publishers Weekly

Any novel by Whitbread-winner Crace is a literary event, but here his formidable powers of invention shape grim material: a daunting tale that opens with a senseless double murder, then stays focused on the corpses while revealing ordinary yet profoundly telling moments of their final day….A most unexpectedly romantic story and an exceptional feat, to so commingle the mundane and the sublime, that one is left awestruck and dazzled.

Kirkus Reviews

Nothing is strained, for Crace pulls off a remarkable fusion of chaos theory and natural order in telling this story.

FRANK CASO, Booklist

One will watch with eagerness, and bated breath, the progress of this strong, inventive, and above all courageous novelist.

JOHN BANVILLE, The New York Review of Books

Sumptuously exact language…The naked daring of Crace’s subject matter seems to have produced prose more majestic and assured than in any of his previous novels. This story’s terse, drumming, iambic utterances often come close to verse, and its wit matches the best work of any of Crace’s contemporaries.

CAREY HARRISON, San Francisco Chronicle

Crace has written the rare novel whose formal, narrative and prosodic components rhyme effortlessly.

SARAH MANGUSO, The Boston Book Review

A virtuoso piece of writing, with page after page filled with harsh, earthy evocation of the mini-sagas of living and dying. Oddly enough, the effect is both starkly appalling and subtly ennobling. Only an artist of Crace’s calibre could pull off such a feat.

DAN CRYER, Newsday

This is a minor tour de force from one of Britain’s best novelists – something like the "American Beauty" of the literary season. What a stylist Crace is, and what a vision.

WENDELL BROCK, Atlanta Journal

Disconcertingly, philosophically elegant.

BETSEY WILLEFORD, Newark Star-Ledger

Mr Crace is one of Britain’s most remarkable writers, and has been for the past couple of decades. He is unique, as well. Two suspectly inflated adjectives, but what they denote in tandem is that Mr Crace is a novelist able to precipitate large and cloudy themes into slashes of a particular, revivifying rain.

RICHARD EDER, The New York Times

Crace has crafted an original – an exquisitely gentle and unsentimental tale on the evolution of love…These thoughts and observations are the instruments of a highly-evolved novelist, an active, living anatomist of love.

JONATHAN LEVI, Los Angeles Times

It’s not clear to me why Jim Crace isn’t world famous. Few novels are as unsparing as this one in presenting the ephemerality of love given the implacability of death, and few are as moving in depicting the undiminished achievement love nevertheless represents.

JIM SHEPHERD, New York Times Book Review

Extraordinarily moving. Utterly riveting. Crace writes with such staggering beauty, intelligence and mesmerising sensitivity on love, nature and zoology, death, mourning and the workings of life itself that Being Dead is a work that a reader will marvel at and cherish. It cannot be overpraised or, once read, easily forgotten.

SUSAN MIRON, Miami Herald.

A strangely powerful, transcendent work.

CHARLES WINECOFF, Entertainment Weekly

With his sixth novel, Being Dead, Crace continues in his role as the secular grand inquisitor of the big metaphysical questions. Crace’s characteristic, almost painterly attention to the physical with his invented animals, language and epigrams brings this play of backward and forward to fruition, investing the untimely death of fictional characters with indelibility. The sort of novel that suggests the universe through a grain of sand, Being Dead draws an insular, almost post-lapsarian world, where everything is known and so meaning and significance must be created anew.

MINNA PRCTOR, Bomb Magazine

Gorgeously written…In Being Dead, Crace pulls off a remarkable bit of legerdemain, combining various unappealing parts into a whole that somehow achieves a rough, uncompromising beauty.


The English writer Jim Crace is a literary meteor. On the evidence of Being Dead, Crace is an extravagantly gifted writer unlike anyone else I can think of, and his new book is a rare interleaving of writerly panache and common human feeling.

JOHN CROWLEY, Washington Post

If being dead meant one’s life would be immortalized by Jim Crace’s immaculate prose, one might fear it ever so slightly less.

PHILIP CONNORS, Wall Street Journal

A tough, haunting, oddly beautiful book.


Every sentence that he writes is original and closely observed, worth reading and reading again…Being Dead is a remarkable piece of work, utterly unsentimental yet beautiful, faintly comical yet full of measured gravity, and quite unlike any novel I have read before. It is also as consoling a meditation on death as an atheist is ever likely to encounter.

BROOKE ALLEN, The New Criterion

This remarkably written… small gem of a book will stay with you long after you finish.

OTTO PENZLER, Penzler Pick

Awe inspiring.


Jim Crace’s work grows more compelling and brilliant with each new novel…Being Dead will undoubtedly stand out as one of the literary masterpieces of the early 21st century.

GREG BURKMAN, Seattle Times