Continent, Jim Crace

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

Continent, his debut, is different. I don’t think it’s a novel, for a start. It reads like seven short stories. And I don’t see why he had 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 settings for this book.

So, 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 an unknown world, an unknown continent.