A Cure for Suicide

Jesse Ball. Pantheon, $23.95 (240p) ISBN 978-1-101-87012-9
This dystopian novel from Ball (Silence Once Begun) is both a puzzle box and a haunting love story. In the opening pages, the reader is dropped into a future world where brainwashed and childlike adult “claimants,” cared for one-on-one by mostly female “examiners,” are being systematically resettled in bucolic villages. One examiner, Teresa, is working to rehabilitate Anders, a claimant. However, memories of his previous life are intruding into Anders’s dreams—and eventually into his new life. In the next section of the novel, a new claimant and examiner are introduced. This claimant, Martin, progresses smoothly, until he meets Hilda, a female claimant who is keenly aware that something is wrong with their world. Each section illuminates the characters and situations from the previous portions, which draws the reader into the material more effectively and heartbreakingly than a traditional structure would allow. This method also gives Ball the opportunity to play with the conventions of the dystopian genre, addressing the surprising sociological cause of his alternate reality. Befitting the intricate premise, Ball’s prose, mostly dialogue between examiners and claimants, veers from precise to obfuscating and back again, as though the novel were a film rapidly going in and out of focus. Whatever the source of this book’s elusive magic, it should cement Ball’s reputation as a technical innovator whose work delivers a powerful emotional impact. (July)
Reviewed on: 05/25/2015
Release date: 07/21/2015
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-1-101-87213-0
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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