I enjoyed Harvest, one man’s tale of the end of a village and a way of life. It is full of all the quiet beauty I expect from Jim Crace’s prose but I wouldn’t have chosen this as the winner of the Booker. It is where I would like my more mature writing to go – not narrowed by fame and comfort, not sent scurrying for something more dramatic to write about or desperately writing about something I feel I ought to write about (really I’m thinking of Ian McEwan here – how I loved his early work), but emboldened to give merit to the realities of the small world we sense around us. It makes me want an old student of mine, David Strickland (though student implies he might have had something to learn from me, which certainly he did not), to finish his novel and get it published because this quiet attention to the world we breathe is something he is also excellent at.
Harvest is not my favourite work by Jim Crace, but he remains one of my favourite writers and I admire him deeply. If you want to feel what a rural England without fences and hedges might have been like, an England where the lord of the land is the law, then this book is for you.
Only one more short-listed novel to go! Of course I knew, as I started to read it that it was likely to be the winner simply because I hadn’t read it yet and only had three days to read it. How right I was!