Interview with Jim Crace
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Jim Crace was born in Hertfordshire in 1946 and is the author of 11 novels. This interview took place on 10 July 2013. Before becoming a novelist, he worked as a freelance journalist, and wrote educational plays and a number of short stories between 1968 and 1986. He has won numerous awards and became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1999. His success began when his first book, Continent (1986), won the Whitbread First Novel Award, the Guardian Fiction Prize and the David Higham Prize for Fiction. His most recent novel, Harvest, won him the James Tait Black Prize for fiction. Crace also won a Windham Campbell literature prize in 2014 for his career in fiction writing. Among British contemporary novelists, Jim Crace has made a space for himself which is uniquely his. It is known as ‘Craceland’, a term which describes his gift for setting his novels in mythically oriented landscapes. Crace is not holding a mirror to our real world but rather he is inventing his continent from the real world’s dark corners, worlds of his own making. These worlds are as simple as his description of them, but approaching them will uncover how they conceal universal moral issues of nowhere and everywhere. His fiction is a product of a man who knows the facts; Crace describes his fiction as dealing ‘with big issues, big moral issues, rather than smaller domestic issues’. His inventions ask readers to respond to crucial universal issues rather than simple facts. His interest in natural history is obvious in his fiction, as his interest in walking and travelling inspires him to invent mythical worlds and communities. In this interview, Crace highlights inventions as the core of his fiction, but indicates that he starts with landscapes which he considers the basis for his unlimited re-shaping of his inventions. His Craceland is rendered in a multitude of forms but with the same key words and contents. Indeed, elements of themes, tropes and means of exploring them (archetypes, ambiguity and universal big issues) are present effectively in almost all of his novels. The prototype Craceland can be found in his debut, which marks the starting point for approaching Crace’s first form of mythification, Craceland.