9780140239751 / 0140239758

Being Dead


Publisher:Penguin Books Ltd



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About the book:

Lying in the sand dunes of Baritone Bay are the bodies of a middle-aged couple. Zoologists Joseph and Celice returned to the site of their first lovemaking to rekindle the flame thirty years into their marriage, only to be battered to death by a thief with a chunk of granite. Their bodies lie undiscovered and rotting for a week, prey to sand-crabs, flies and gulls, and yet there is something touching about this scene--it's in the way that Joseph's hand curves lightly around Celice's leg, "quietly resting; flesh on flesh; dead but not departed yet."

Being Dead is more about the leavings of death than it is about the state of death itself. Running crazy fate lines between the past and present of Joseph and Celice, Crace returns again and again to those mutilated bodies in the dunes with updates on the colour of their decaying skin, the seeping fluids and the creatures feeding off them. This is not a murder book-- the killer is perhaps the least important character. But Crace gives some wonderful glances at death- professionals, in particular a drugged-up lascivious mortuary clerk; "He'd find his own name on the list one day...Enfin, a name to make his heart stand still. Sincere at last."

Jim Crace is the author of Continent, The Gift of Stones, Arcadia, Signals of Distress and Quarantine, which won the 1997 Whitbread Novel Award and was shortlisted for the 1997 Booker Prize and IMPAC Literary Prize. Crace has won numerous other awards, including the EM Forster Award and the Guardian Fiction Award. -- Anna Davis

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