Harvest by Jim Crace | Book review

Did you see the Booker shortlist that was announced this week? Jim Crace’s Harvest has been hotly tipped to win since it was included in the longlist earlier this year. I decided to read it so that I was a) ahead of the game, and b) well, so that I know what all the fuss is about.
On a side note, this issue of an author reviewing other author’s books can be a little thorny at times. My approach is as follows. If I like a book and want you to read it, I’m happy to review it. If I don’t enjoy a book very much, I won’t review it.

You might think that’s a massive cop out, but I disagree. Reading and sharing good books is a tremendously positive thing and I don’t want to waste my energy on telling you not to buy a book. Books need buying. I want to persuade, not dissuade.

I’m also not that keen on dissing the hard work of other writers. It’s really difficult to write a book and nuff respect to anyone who manages it. Like I say, I’d rather concentrate on being supportive of the work that warms my cockles.

You’ll notice this review comes in video format. That’s the way I’m rolling at the moment. Let me know what you think and if you’re reading this in your feed reader or in an email, you can watch the review on YouTube right here.


lonesomereader@gmail.com 2 October 2013 Reply

I finished reading Harvest last night. Yes, because of the language and description of village life it did feel like a very harmonious idyllic place to live, but as you say it goes very sinister. I think he was showing how the dark side of human nature always emerges when it comes down to survival.

I don’t think almost unanimous positive reviews guarantee it will win the Booker. I’ve also read The Luminaries which is an incredible achievement and I think might win it.

iain@writeforyourlife.net 4 October 2013 Reply

Thanks for the comment Eric. I’ve since read Testament of Mary and really enjoyed that too. I actually think it’s a pretty open contest this year.

ianbrettcooper@gmail.com 16 October 2013 Reply

It seems set in an unspecified century, but it is not. A reference to trunk hose places it squarely in the 1500s or early 1600s.
Personally, I found the book well written, but lacking in almost every other facet. Frankly, the plot was contrived and made little sense. The antagonist was a stereotypical ‘bad guy’ and the book doesn’t rise above laziness in anything but the writing style. The book almost got interesting in the middle, but then it trailed off at the end. Of characterization, there was nothing. Of setting, there was nothing – we’re supposed to just buy the idea that a village that’s existed for hundreds of years never acquired a name. The merest hint is given that the action takes place in the 1500s, but that’s all. Why should anyone care when all the book gives us is emptiness for place, for characters and for motivation.

Yes, the author can write, and for readers who enjoyed Cormac McCarthy’s
‘The Road’, this novel might contain enough to satisfy. But I require a bit more from a book than a nicely turned phrase or two.

This is one of those books whose clever use of language might trick a reviewer into giving a rave review, but trust me, the emperor has no clothes.

I want back the hours I spent dragging myself through this.

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