The Rending and the Nest

Kaethe Schwehn. Bloomsbury, $26 (304p) ISBN 978-1-63286-972-2
Schwehn’s bizarre novel blends seamless storytelling with the raw emotion of a world suddenly turned on its head. After an unexplained “Rending” causes 95 percent of the world’s population to disappear, 20-year-old Mira is living in a Midwestern refugee settlement called Zion. A temperate climate, grey skies, and huge piles of objects that people scavenge for supplies replace the world they knew. Mira’s friend Lana is the first pregnant resident, and when her baby is born a doll rather than a human, the community is disturbed. More pregnant women give birth to more objects (birds, chopsticks), which provoke conflicted feelings of attachment and revulsion in them. It’s only when Mira makes a place for the objects to rest, a Nest for each, that the mothers snap out of their attachments to the objects. At the end of their fifth year in Zion, a visitor named Michael arrives, bringing with him a mysterious confidence that hypnotizes many Zionites, especially Lana. The story culminates in a riveting rescue mission. Schwehn’s novel is nerve-wracking in the most satisfying way, and the characters are vivid enough to elevate this story above the well-traveled terrain of postapocalyptic fiction. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/18/2017
Release date: 02/20/2018
Paperback - 978-1-63286-973-9
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