Jim Crace’s tenth book, All That Follows, is quite a surprise, but not because of its habit of skipping about in time or its attempts to imagine a society of the future. Crace’s aptitude with such tactics was amply proved both in Being Dead (1999), which slowly wound back the clock on a murder as the victims’ bodies cooled in a sand dune, and in The Pesthouse (2007), a dreamlike scramble through a ruined future America. What surprises in All That Follows, despite the promise of its presentation, is the novel’s deep unadventurousness. It’s a book about a political coward that itself demonstrates a distinct lack of nerve.
The setting is Britain, 2024, and Leonard Lessing, aka Lennie Less, professional saxophonist and estranged stepdad, is preparing to celebrate his fiftieth birthday. Flicking through the news channels, he comes across the face of Maxie Lermontov, a firebrand revolutionary with whom Lennie shared one of the most exciting