Manil Surirecommends Being Dead by Jim Crace (Picador, $12)
Every once in a while a book comes along that is based on a premise so preposterous one has to gasp at the author’s audacity. On the surface, Being Dead is an impossible sell—the love story of two zoologists told in flashback (reasonable enough) intercut with an account of their bodies decaying on the beach where they have been murdered (surely Mr. Crace couldn’t be serious). In ordinary hands, scenes such as a dune beetle running over a cadaver toward sunlight might be appalling, but Crace (who won the National Book Critics Circle Award for this book) impregnates everything with so much humor and depth that the only possible reaction is not revulsion, but fascination; not disgust, but laughter.
Manil Suri is the author of The Death of Vishnu, which HarperCollins published last month in paperback.