Continent, Jim Crace

My American writer friend, Doug, put me on to this English novelist and I first read, and loved, Arcadia.

Continent, Crace’s first book, is different. I don’t think it’s a novel, for a start. It reads like seven short stories. And why did he have to invent a seventh continent as backdrop? I’ve never been to Africa or South America but have read enough from both to visualise them as the perfect settings for this book.

That apart, it is of course a good read and two of the pieces stand out – On Heat in the middle, with a very fine twist, and Electricity as a good example of prefiguring a final scene. A sense of menace suffuses all the stories; perhaps this disturbance casts the reader into Crace’s unknown world, an unknown continent of the imagination.