James “Jim” Crace (born 1 March 1946) is an award-winning English writer. His novels include Quarantine, which was judged Whitbread Novel of 1998, and Harvest, which won the 2015 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the 2013 James Tait Black Memorial Prize, and was shortlisted for the 2013 Man Booker Prize.
Crace was born at Brocket Hall, Hertfordshire, and grew up at the far northern point of Greater London, close to Enfield, where Crace attended Enfield Grammar School. He studied for a degree at the Birmingham College of Commerce (now part of Birmingham City University), where he was enrolled as an external student of the University of London. While at university, Crace edited and contributed to the Birmingham Sun, the newspaper of the Guild of Students, University of Aston. He was awarded an external Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from the University of London in 1968.
Immediately after graduating from university, Crace joined the Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO) and was sent to Khartoum, Sudan. He traveled through Africa and briefly taught at a village school called Kgosi Kgari Sechele Secondary School in Molepolole, Botswana. Two years later he returned to the UK, and worked with the BBC, writing educational programmes.
From 1976 to 1987 he worked as a freelance journalist, before giving up due to the excessive “political interference” he experienced at newspapers such as The Sunday Times.
In 1974 he published his first work of prose fiction, Annie, California Plates in The New Review, and in the next 10 years would write a number of short stories and radio plays, including:
Helter Skelter, Hang Sorrow, Care’ll Kill a Cat, The New Review (December 1975). Reprinted in Cosmopolitan and included in Introduction 6: Stories by new writers, Faber and Faber (1977).
Refugees, winner of the Socialist Challenge short story competition (judges: John Fowles, Fay Weldon, Terry Eagleton), Socialist Challenge (1977).
Seven Ages, Quarto (June 1980), broadcast as Middling by BBC Radio 3.
The Bird Has Flown, radio play, broadcast on BBC Radio 4, 28 October 1976.
A Coat of Many Colours, radio play, broadcast on BBC Radio 4, 26 March 1979.
Continent, Crace's first book, was published in 1986. The book's sale to America enabled him to leave journalism and concentrate on writing books. Continent consists of seven stories united by their setting and themes. It won the Whitbread First Novel of the Year Award, the David Higham Prize for Fiction, and the Guardian Fiction prize. New York Times critic Robert Olen Butler called it “brilliant, provocative and delightful”.
Follow-up book The Gift of Stones is set in a village in the Neolithic period, while Quarantine is set in the Judean desert, 2000 years ago. The later book won the Whitbread Novel Award in 1997, and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, as was his 2013 novel Harvest. He won the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1999, for Being Dead.
Crace lives in the Moseley area of Birmingham with his wife Pamela Turton. They have two children, Thomas Charles Crace (born 1981) and the actress Lauren Rose Crace (born 1986), who played Danielle Jones in EastEnders.