Adam Mars-Jones writes:

Jim Crace is as much ‘out-of-pattern’ as the narrator of his new novel, a settled outsider. He can hardly even be said to resist the pull of publishing convention, any more than aluminium resists a magnet. He’s attracted to unlabelled, marginal or parenthetical times and places, environments that might seem unpromising as settings for fiction, even actively hostile to the growth of narrative. Harvest follows this trend: a historical novel that takes place outside history. The withholding of labels and reference points could hardly go further than it does here. We’re used to place and period being clearly indicated in chapter headings or film captions, and characters wearing name tags like supermarket cashiers, as if it were a job requirement. The village setting seems to be Tudor, but all evidence is circumstantial. (There’s no proof positive that this is England, though such local surnames as Saxton, Derby, Higgs and Carr strongly suggest it.) There must be a royal head and name stamped on the coinage, but we have no way of knowing whose it is.

(LRB 7 February 2013)

Other Titles of Interest