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A remote English village wakes on the morning after harvest, looking forward to enjoying a hard-earned day of rest and feasting. But two mysterious columns of smoke mar the sky, raising alarm and suspicion.
The first column of smoke comes from the edge of the village land, sent as a signal by newcomers to announce their presence as per regional custom. The second smoke column is even more troubling: it comes from a blaze set in Master Kent's stables. Walter Thirsk, a relative outsider in the village, casts his eye on three local boys and blames their careless tomfoolery. The rest of the villagers, though, close ranks against the strangers rather than accuse one of their own. Two men and a woman are apprehended; their heads are shaved to mark their criminality; and the men are thrown into the stocks for a week. Justice has been served. Or has it?
Meanwhile, another newcomer has been spotted in the village sporting the finer clothes and fashionable beard of a townsman. Mr. Quill, as the villagers name him, observes them closely and takes careful notes about their land, apparently at Master Kent's behest. It is his presence more than any other that will threaten the village's entire way of life.
In effortless, expertly crafted prose, Jim Crace details the unraveling of bucolic life in the face of economic progress. His tale is timeless and unsettling, evoking a richly textured world you will remember long after you finish reading.
"Jim Crace is the most generous of writers. A fabulist, an open heart, an imagination in full flight. There is something of a harvest in every book: the promise, the violence, the fall, the regain. And Harvest is one of his best novels ever. He is, quite simply, one of the great writers of our time." —Colum McCann, National Book Award-winning author of Let the Great World Spin
"Glorious. . . . Harvest calls to mind J. M. Coetzee’s finest and most allegorical novel, Waiting for the Barbarians ... Crace writes with a particular, haunting empathy for the displaced ... His plots may be epic, but his sentences carry a sensual charge ... In his compassionate curiosity and his instincts for insurgent uncertainty, Crace surely ranks among our greatest novelists of radical upheaval, a perfect fit for our unstable, unforgiving age." —The New York Times Book Review
"The most seductive and enthralling of Crace’s novels." —New Statesman
"[Harvest] is intellectually and morally engaging while also being exciting to read. . . . Mr. Crace's imagery brilliantly suggests the loamy, lyric glories of rustic English language and life. . . . [He] devotes his considerable talents to telling an affecting tale of a bound world and its simple people as they head toward a tragic and inexorable breakdown." —Wall Street Journal
"Surreptitiously thought-provoking. . . . Harvest attains a haunting and almost subversive quality." —Boston Globe
"In language beautiful and painstakingly precise, Jim Crace circumscribes the story as neatly as a fairy tale. . . . Entirely absorbing." —Minneapolis Star-Tribune
"Harvest is as finely written as it is tautly structured. Pungently flavoured with archaic words, its language is exhilaratingly exact, sometimes poetic and sometimes stark. Magnificently resurrecting a pivotal moment in our history about which it is deeply knowledgeable, this simultaneously elegiac and unillusioned novel is an achievement worthy to stand alongside those of Crace’s great fictional influence, William Golding." —The Sunday Times
"Crace, an original and a literary stylist, with, usually, something remarkable to say, says it here in a haunting work of sudden violence and vengeance. . . . Few novels as fine or as complex in their apparent simplicity will be published this, or indeed any, year." —Irish Times
"As with Crace's other novels, Harvest is deftly written, in language—formal, slightly archaic even—that reflects the setting it describes. It's also tightly plotted. . . . Crace's real concern is his characters, the way that, like all of us, they make mistakes and act from weakness, and turn on one another when things go wrong." —Los Angeles Times
"Crace’s signature measured delivery and deliberate focus create unforgettably poetic passages that quiver with beauty. An electrifying return to form." —Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Rarely does language so plainspoken and elemental tell a story so richly open to interpretation on so many different levels. . . . With economy and grace, the award-winning Crace gives his work a simplicity and symmetry that belie the disturbances beneath the consciousness of its narrator. . . . Crace continues to occupy a singular place in contemporary literature." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review