In this brilliantly original take on the post-apocalyptic horror novel, American novelist Colson Whitehead shakes up the zombie genre with genius results. A pandemic has devastated the planet, sorting humanity into two types: the uninfected and the infected, the living and the living dead. Now the plague is receding, and Americans are busy ...
In this brilliantly original take on the post-apocalyptic horror novel, American novelist Colson Whitehead shakes up the zombie genre with genius results. A pandemic has devastated the planet, sorting humanity into two types: the uninfected and the infected, the living and the living dead. Now the plague is receding, and Americans are busy rebuilding civilisation under orders from the provisional government based in Buffalo. Their top mission: the resettlement of Manhattan. Armed forces have successfully reclaimed the island south of Canal Street - aka 'Zone One' - eliminating the most dangerous plague victims, but pockets of infected squatters remain. Teams of civilian volunteers are tasked with clearing out the 'malfunctioning' stragglers who exist in a catatonic state, transfixed by their former lives, but who are lethal when roused. Mark Spitz is a member of one of the civilian teams working in lower Manhattan. The novel alternates between flashbacks of Spitz's desperate fight for survival during the worst of the outbreak and his present narrative, unfolding over three surreal days as he undertakes the mundane mission of straggler removal, suffers the rigours of Post-Apocalyptic Stress Disorder, and attempts to come to terms with a fallen world. And then things start to go wrong.
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Publishers Weekly, 2011-06-20 While the revolution will not be televised, but the apocalypse and what comes after, at least according to Whitehead (Sag Harbor), will have sponsors. It will even have an anthem, the brilliantly self-referential "Stop! Can You Hear the Eagle Roar?" (theme from Reconstruction). As we follow New Yorker and perpetual B-student "Mark Spitz" over three harrowing days, Whitehead dumpster dives genre tropes, using what he wants and leaving the rest to rot, turning what could have been another zombie-pocalypse gore-fest into the kind of smart, funny, pop culture-filled tale that would make George Romero proud. While many stories in this genre are set in a devastated nowheresville, Whitehead plants his narrative firmly in New York City, penning a love letter to a Manhattan still recognizable after the event referred to only as "Last Night." Far from the solemn affair so often imagined, the apocalypse in Whitehead's hands is filled with the kind of dark humor one imagines actual survivors adopting in order to stave off madness. The author sometimes lets the set pieces he's so good at run long, but otherwise succeeds brilliantly with a fresh take on survival, grief, 9/11, AIDS, global warming, nuclear holocaust, Katrina, Abu Ghraib, Pol Pot's Year Zero, Missouri tornadoes, and the many other disasters both natural and not that keep a stranglehold on our fears and dreams. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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