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Reviews of Due Preparations for the Plague


Due Preparations for the Plague won three of Australia's major literary prizes:

• the $25,000 Queensland Premier's Literary Award for Fiction

• the $20,000 Patrick White Award

• Davitt Award for 'best crime novel of the year by an Australian woman'

• Shortlisted for Adelaide International Festival Award

• Shortlisted for Christina Stead Prize for fiction

• Listed in 'Best Books of the Year' by The Age in Melbourne and The Sydney Morning Herald


Janette Turner Hospital's astonishing novel is both contemporary international thriller and literary tour de force. Due Preparations for the Plague investigates the shadowy worlds of terrorism and intelligence while also exploring the psychological trauma these worlds deliver to their victims. Constantly innovative and authentic, this is a brilliant novel for our disturbing times.

— Citation of judges for Queensland Premier's Literary Award


The Australian-born US-based Janette Turner Hospital fuses postmodernism and noir...
She takes incendiary subjects and, through the refuge of fiction, makes them touchable and safe.

A novelist of cool intelligence... her labyrinthine plot, which shifts breathlessly through time and space... owes less to Tom Clancy than to Jorge Luis Borges.... At the heart of horror, Turner Hospital finds an unlikely note of loveliness – and salvation of sorts through storytelling... Due Preparations for the Plague offers consolation in times of terror.

Time Magazine (full page lead review)


A densely layered tale of international terrorism, political intrigue and deceit in the mode of John le Carré, although more claustrophobic in its intensity... a thriller with existential underpinnings that attends to the big question of the human condition and the nature of evil itself.

Sydney Morning Herald


Janette Turner Hospital writes so passionately about death, you instinctively know she is in love with life. Due Preparations for the Plague carries you on a fast trek through the dark alleys of terror, love, loneliness and living.

The West Australian


A complex, multi-layered work with a plot that functions beautifully in its own right, but one that is also a mechanism for a profound exploration of the most important questions we ask ourselves. The plot is so topical as to be frightening. It is also about the greatest of existential questions: how do we live? how do we maintain hope when we know we are going to die? How do we prepare for the plague?

The Age, Melbourne



Toronto Globe & Mail 'Best Books of the Year'– listed in the Top 10 books of 2003

Move over Twain, DeLillo and Franzen. Janette Turner Hospital remakes the American social novel. Thrilling, maddening, deeply moral, Due Preparations for the Plague is a near flawless novel, and one so timely it is breathtaking.

Toronto Globe & Mail (front page review)


Janette Turner Hospital's new novel has been getting across-the-board raves the likes of which haven't been seen since Don DeLillo's Underworld... The book achieves that rare combination of timeliness and timelessness, all the more impressively by making the two seem one and the same...


We are never allowed to forget that terrorism's impact, for its victims' loved ones, never really dissipates.... What's hard to convey in a review of this length is Turner Hospital's feat of broadening what could have been a superior, LeCarre-esque thriller, filled with compelling characters and white-knuckle episodes – which it is – into a wide-ranging philosophical examination of how we, as a society and as individuals, deal with mortality.... While it looks without blinking into some of the darkest corners of the human condition, the effect, as in any great work of art, is finally uplifting.

Montreal Gazette (lead review)




LIRE [click here for review]


Le Monde [click here for review]


Livres Hebdo [click here for review]


Enfant, du côté de Brisbane, en Australie, Janette Turner Hospital vivait dans une famille intégriste, limitant son horizon au ciel et à l'enfer. Depuis, la fillette a pris le large, mais ses livres restent imprégnés de ces deux mythes extrêmes. Dernières Recommandations avant la peste met en scène une prise d'otages sur le vol Paris-New York. Les terroristes laissent
sortir les enfants tandis que les adultes sont parqués dans un bunker. Il n'y aura aucun survivant. Quinze ans plus tard, les enfants rescapés ressassent leurs cauchemars et échangent des nouvelles sur un site Internet. C'est alors qu'ils s'aperçoivent qu'on assassine discrètement tous ceux qui s'intéressent de trop près à cette tragédie...

Influencée par le Décaméron, de Boccace, et La Peste, de Camus, Janette Turner Hospital situe son histoire à plusieurs niveaux : celui des rescapés, qui ne supporteront jamais de vivre avec ce souvenir morbide. Celui de la peste moderne, cette folie des enlèvements et de la mort hasardeuse. Celui de la raison d'Etat et des sacrifices qu'elle exige. La romancière parvient ainsi à construire un véritable roman d'espionnage, lui adjoint une
réflexion sociale et politique, tout en racontant des histoires sentimentales, celles d'hommes et de femmes qui tentent de dépasser leur douleur. Entre le ciel et l'enfer.

—Christine Ferniot, Télérama n° 2860




"But I think randomness, the maddening neatness of randomness. Yes, I think the geography of chance is the ultimate teaser, intellectually and morally, because of the sheer enormity of divergence that results from a micro-change here and a micro-change there."
This poignant statement, which applies as easily to the days of the bubonic plague as it does to New York City in 2001 or Israel today, is a testament to Turner Hospital's masterful grasp of her novel's dark subject.

Jerusalem Post [click here for the full review]




This complex and exciting novel takes us to a world of terrorists, fanatics, secret agents,
hijackers and kidnappers. Janette Turner Hospital reveals the victims' traumas with great psychological insight. Thanks to her lyrical pen she manages to create beautiful stories
out of guilt, destruction and paranoia and even though they are told to keep the death at bay, eventually they crawl quite close under your skin!

— Adriaan van Dis

Misdaadromans | Crimezone



New Zealand

A tour de force... complex, riveting, timely and quite brilliant. Turner Hospital's skill in creating the skewed universe of intelligence is so impressive I can't help wondering if she herself, in the course of her research, came under surveillance. But in the end what sets this novel apart from its more pedestrian counterparts in the terror/intelligence genre is its insight into the mystery of dying, and the extraordinary connections that are made when a group of people face certain death.

New Zealand Herald



Criticas Literarias Regina Irae


United Kingdom

A powerful and atmospheric political thriller.... In elegant and restrained passages, Turner Hospital examines the preparations for death, weaving her meditation out of the way in which the final victims make amends, showing that reparation and preparation are inextricably bound together. Epigrams and quotes from sources as diverse as Bunyan and Camus, Defoe and the Bible, remind us that living with death and making due preparations is part of the human condition. Camus wrote that a tale can "be only the record of what had had to be done, and what assuredly would have to be done again in the never-ending fight against terror"; in an echo of this, the relationship between generations is seen as a balance between reparation for wrongs done and preparations for what is to come.

Times Literary Supplement, 2 January 2004


What you get when a writer of the calibre of Hospital turns to the thriller is high literary art smuggled as contraband inside the commercial form: a climate of Camus or Kafka inside a plot spectacle that is more Clancy or Grisham... Hospital has tapped into current anxieties about air travel (and subtextually, the future of the literary novel) and created a very poignant, very intelligent and very frightening book.

The Times, 17 January 2004


Due Preparations explores not just the edgy world of covert operations but the long-term psychological impact of a terrorist attack... A conventional thriller would have concentrated on the hostages' heroic efforts to escape a peculiarly gruesome captivity... Turner Hospital does something quite different, confronting horror with the stately pace of ritual.... It is these extraordinary scenes that make the novel so memorable, lifting it from the realm of the thriller into a meditation on the human spirit.

Sunday Times


What distinguishes this book from other espionage thrillers is Turner Hospital's chokehold on her characters' psychology. She turns the interrogation lamp of her prose on each in turn.

Daily Telegraph


This thrillingly pacy read is not only an account of government corruption, but a deeply-felt examination of family life.

Eve Magazine


United States

Best Books of the Year: San Francisco Chronicle

Independent Booksellers Recommendations: Top 10 picks in Book Sense 76

Borders Bookstore Magazine: Listed in Top 6 Picks 'Original Voices'


When a writer of this caliber takes on subjects of espionage, terrorism, and political intrigues, the result is a book that keeps the reader engrossed.... And one is left with the question, again, of how much do we really know about events that happen in this world?

Book Sense 76


Hospital is a writer of many gifts; her dark imagination, astute insights into societal interactions and the supple beauty of her prose, provide an irresistible combination.... Hospital's sophisticated psychological thriller offers a thought-provoking glimpse of the sociopolitical intricacies of the individuals and organizations that track terrorism, as well as of the enduring personal struggles of those left behind after an attack.

Publisher's Weekly (starred review)


Although it sounds like a high-concept thriller, Hospital's novel is nothing like that. Jumping between multiple characters' points of view, she focuses not only on the horror of the actual events but also on the even more terrible horror of how such events force us to face the world... but the pain is never gratuitous or sensationalistic. Hospital asks us to confront a world where government "intelligence" has become the ultimate weapon of mass destruction, but she shows us that destruction in the most intimate terms.

Booklist (starred review)


Superficially a thriller in the clever Continental manner of John le Carré, Due Preparations for the Plague shows what can happen when a serious artist gets her hands on a fictional genre.

What's most chilling in this bracing visceral thriller is the way Hospital continually locates, in inhuman events, the unyieldingly human experience.

San Francisco Chronicle


Hospital has wrought from tragedy a life-affirming tale, asking a highly personal question that arises from public tragedy: "How do we ready ourselves for what might happen tomorrow? What possible preparations can be made?"

Los Angeles Times


Insidious in mood and sinuous in style, the works of Janette Turner Hospital are richly imbued with a highly lyrical and luminous quality. ...With the blunt-force beauty of seamless language... Hospital masterfully raises the big questions in a compelling... mesmerizing manner, drawing in the reader to a riveting degree.

San Diego Tribune


An act of terrorism is the specter that haunts the maddeningly real characters in Janette Turner Hospital's brilliant novel Due Preparations for the Plague. With terse, erudite, yet affecting prose, Hospital permits us to live through the rippling ramifications of such acts and to know that the plague for which we must prepare has been created by our brethren. With its deliberate echoes of Homer, Defoe and Boccaccio, her novel also helps us better understand the events of our time by allowing us to share the anguish of those who died and those who are left behind.

Boston Globe


Unputdownable, this literary suspense tale is perfectly attuned to the national mood ...and does for the post-September 11 era what John le Carré did for the Cold War.

Time Out Magazine, New York


International terrorism and chilling realpolitik combine with deeply human stories in this stunning literary thriller, a powerfully contemporary novel with echoes of Dante, Defoe, and Camus.

Borders Bookstore


Due Preparations for the Plague is this year's definitive political thriller. Turner Hospital remains impassioned and smart the entire way through, keeping the pace and the effort at stampede pace at at all times... an uncompromising literary force. It is also enlightening, touching and stunning.


A mesmerizing tale of grief, mystery and revelation. An intense, riveting reading experience that explores the overlapping worlds of national security and international terrorism.

Book Page, Nashville, TN


Tomorrow KCRW's Bookworm interviews Janette Turner Hospital, whose extraordinary fiction is beginning to gain recognition in America. Her latest novel is Due Preparations for the Plague (Norton, $24.95). PW thought it was a fine prescription of fiction for this day and age, writing, "In this age of global terrorism, Hospital's sophisticated psychological thriller offers a thought-provoking glimpse of the sociopolitical intricacies of the individuals and organizations that track terrorism, as well as of the enduring personal struggles of those left behind after an attack."

Publishers Weekly Daily (Booksellers 'Authors on the Air' segment)