cover image They Is Us

They Is Us

Tama Janowitz, . . HarperCollins UK/The Friday Project, $13.95 (282pp) ISBN 978-1-906321-30-7

In her first novel since 2003's Peyton Amberg , Janowitz imagines a surreal and dysfunctional world where toxic waste is everywhere, the rich are very rich and everyone else is very poor, drugs are prevalent and jobs are scarce, cockroaches have become pets while birds have disappeared completely, and literacy has all but vanished. Most people have become so complacent about the many horrors around them that they no longer notice new ones when they appear. Focusing on one family and their circle of friends and acquaintances, Janowitz predicts an apathy-drenched way of living that slowly becomes all too plausible. This edgy, uncomfortable novel is not an enjoyable read by any measure, but those who pick it up will find themselves simultaneously horrified and transfixed, compelled to persist until the grim conclusion. (Jan.)