The Wall

John Lanchester. Norton, $25.95 (288p) ISBN 978-1-324-00163-8
Lanchester (Capital) imagines coming of age amid the xenophobia and despair of a world ravaged by climate change in his dynamite dystopian novel. Twenty-something Joseph Kavanagh arrives for his mandatory two-year service as a Defender of the Wall surrounding his coastal country. It has survived the massive ecological devastation and sea level rise known as the Change, and its Defenders kill anyone from outside (known as Others) who tries to enter. Kavanagh suffers bracing cold, prolonged tedium, and the exacting demands of his company’s captain amid the fear of attack; any Defenders who fail are put out to sea. He gets to know his fellow soldiers and develops an incipient crush on androgynous and initially taciturn Hifa. After a war games training, a young politician warns the Defenders of rumors that the Others are increasingly desperate and some inside the country have been treasonously plotting ways to help them. Cracking under pressure, Hifa offers to have a child with Kavanagh, as parents receive a reprieve from duty, but their plans are obliterated by a surprise attack that has devastating consequences. This terrifyingly resonant depiction of desperation will spark lively discussions about the responsibilities climate change is restructuring, and is electrifying storytelling to boot. (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 01/17/2019
Release date: 03/05/2019
Genre: Fiction
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