Jim Crace was born in Hertfordshire in 1946. He read English Literature at London University and worked for VSO in Sudan as an assistant in Sudanese educational television. He began writing fiction in 1974 and his first story, Annie, California Plates, was published by the New Review. He became Writer in Residence at the Midlands Arts Centre and in 1983 he directed the first Birmingham Festival of Readers and Writers.
His first book, Continent (1986), won the Whitbread First Novel Award, the Guardian Fiction Prize and the David Higham Prize for Fiction. His fourth novel, Signals of Distress (1994) won the Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize. Quarantine (1997) was shortlisted for the Booker Prize for Fiction. Being Dead (1999) won the Whitbread Novel Award, the National Book Critics’ Circle Fiction Award (USA) and was shortlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. He was awarded the E. M. Forster Award by the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1992 and became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1999.
His latest book, Harvest (2013), is shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2013
My three favourite short story writers are from North America and they are women. The two individual collections of short fiction that I have most admired are both by Italian men. I should be able to draw conclusions from these things, I ought to be able to spot a pattern of prejudices in my choices, but cannot. Nor can I offer a reason why there is not a British writer on the list. I’ve simply encountered books by chance over the years and fallen in love with just a few of them. So I will return again and again to the brief masterpieces of New York’s Grace Paley, Canada’s Alice Munro and Georgia’s Flannery O’Connor. And the sheer imaginative elegance and the bravura of Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities and Primo Levi’s The Periodic Table never fail to make me satisfied, admiring – and mightily jealous.