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Extended Audio Sample The Pesthouse, by Jim Crace Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (1,258 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Jim Crace Narrator: Michael Kramer Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Once the safest, most prosperous place on earth, the United States is now a lawless, scantly populated wasteland. The machines have stopped. The government has collapsed. Farmlands lie fallow and the soil is contaminated by toxins. Across the country, families have packed up their belongings to travel eastward toward the one hope left: passage on a ship to Europe.

Franklin Lopez and his brother, Jackson, are only days away from the ocean when Franklin, nearly crippled by an inflamed knee, is forced to stop. In the woods near his temporary refuge, Franklin comes upon an isolated stone building. Inside he finds Margaret, a woman with a deadly infection and confined to the Pesthouse to sweat out her fever. Tentatively, the two join forces and make their way through the ruins of old America. Confronted by bandits rounding up men for slavery, finding refuge in the Ark, a religious community that makes bizarre demands on those they shelter, Franklin and Margaret find their wariness of each other replaced by deep trust and an intimacy neither one has ever experienced before.

The Pesthouse is Jim Crace’s most compelling novel to date. Rich in its understanding of America’s history and ethos, it is a paean to the human spirit.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A suspenseful road novel…Crace’s mordant humor shines darkly…A meditation on some of the deepest questions about America.”

    Los Angeles Times Book Review

  • “A dark envisioning…The best part of this novel, perhaps for [its characters] as well as us, is the hauntingly rendered depiction of what is already gone.”

    Boston Globe

  • “Throughout [The Pesthouse], a delicate, touching shy romance blossoms…Crace is a writer about plain things, but he writes about them in a way that’s both startling and subtle, a shimmering surface over still depths.”

    Washington Post Book World

  • “Forceful…[Crace’s] prose carries the contours of a Donatello sculpture as [he] chisels gracefully flowing sentences with eloquence, precision, and the occasional cheeky hint of the impish.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “Graceful and haunting…Crace is the coldest of writers, and the tenderest.”

    New York Times

  • “Sly…A sweet, screwball love story…Crace lavishes his story with descriptions of nature and creates landscapes in crystalline detail.”

    Cleveland Plain Dealer

  • “Subtly conveyed…Crace manages to strike the right chord with clarity and precision.”

    London Review of Books

  • “Refreshing in its scope and ambition…A compelling adventure.”

    Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star

  • “Wonderful…Crace is a writer of great gifts…The poet of detail.”

    Guardian (London)

  • “Deft…Crace’s imagination is matched by his crystalline prose.”

    Charleston Post and Courier

  • “Haunting…Moving, lyrical…A remarkably imaginative rendering [of America].”

    Telegraph (London)

  • “[Crace has] a muscular way with words…[He] presents a compelling picture of an America betrayed by its overfetishization of rugged individualism and of Americans paradoxically at their best when cutting against the grain.”


  • “[Crace’s] precise, earthy prose revels in the landscape of destruction.”

    Observer (London)

  • “Sly…A quintessential American story.”

    Seattle Times

  • “Beautifully written…The Pesthouse finds [Crace] not just on his own best form, but arguably on the best form any English writer has shown in the last couple years.”

    Spectator (London)

  • “A cracking adventure story…Crace pulls off a transcendent ending that offers a biting commentary on the ongoing American experiment.”

    Entertainment Weekly

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Ab | 2/20/2014

    " While not my favorite novel to date, this book is a very fascinating take on the dystopian novel. The setting is America, in what seems like pre-industrial era, but it is actually in the future when we've run out of natural resources and everything comes to a stand-still. Machines stop, nothing modern works any longer, and we are reverted back to horse and carriage, water wells and mills, etc. The midwestern states seem to be hit the hardest and have no news of what is happening on the east coast except travelers passing through say that boats are taking people to Europe where jobs, technology, and food abound. The story follows two characters trying to make it to the ships to Europe, who encounter highway bandits, a coastal road made entirely of garbage, an ark filled with a crazy religious cult which shuns anything metal, and people captured as slaves to work digging for metal scraps now regarded as useless treasures. Definitely a worth while read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Caryl | 2/19/2014

    " Another post-apocalypse vision of America. Repeated themes of man at the mercy of nature, religion as construct of man. The Finger Baptists and the Helpless Gentlemen were almost as funny as the Pope. I didn't think the book was as perfect as Quarantine or Being Dead, but almost. One of my favorite writers. I wish I had his imagination. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Bad Flu | 2/12/2014

    " Post apocalytic fiction as it should be. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Frederick Bingham | 2/5/2014

    " A post-apocalyptic story set in the eastern United States.Franklin and Margaret are refugees. America has been beset by a plague and has descended into lawlessness. The only hope for a good life is to get to the east coast and take a ship to Europe. Franklin and his brother Jackson have set off from their family farm. Margaret lives in a village called ferrytown that provides crossings of a large river required by the flood of refugees. She has taken sick with the plague, and is exiled from the village into a small shack up in the hills. Franklin gets a lame leg on his travels. The two meet in the little shack where Margaret has been exiled to.Together they recover, and eventually set out for the coast. Along the way, they meet a band robbers looking for slaves who takes Franklin captive. Margaret continues along in her journey, and gets to the coast. There she moves into a religious compound where she gets shelter, but has to adhere to their strange beliefs.The story continues like this, with one event after another. Eventually Franklin and Margaret meet up again, and fall in love, and finally figure out that the trip to Europe is not what they really want to do. "

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