Beta
X

31May

The Men by Sandra Newman review – vision of a world without men

Half of humanity disappears in this disturbing study of loss, grief and moral sacrifice

In Sandra Newman’s fifth novel, all human beings and foetuses with a Y chromosome disappear in an instant, leaving the XXs to celebrate, grieve or organise in a radically altered world. To create a work of fiction with such a stark premise – as Newman also did in her previous high-concept novel, The Heavens, a time-travelling tale set between a reconfigured present-day New York and 16th-century England – runs the risk of confronting the reader with a task of reimagining that is hard to see beyond.

But although it’s true that The Men never allows us to forget its dramatic first principle, numerous other strands and themes emerge: the long aftermath of trauma and coercive control; various manifestations of charisma and complicity; the insidious, dehumanising effects of a society in thrall to screen representations of reality. It is also a novel about the lengths to which we might all go to assuage individual loss and grief; if the world turned out to be a better place without your loved one, would you sacrifice the greater good to turn the clock back?

Continue reading...

Related

‘My “sad girl” fans concern me’: Ottessa Moshfegh in conversation with Carmen Maria Machado

The author of My Year of Rest and Relaxation talks to fellow US writer about memoir v fiction, depic...

Read More >

Either/Or by Elif Batuman review – adventures in literature and life

The further chronicles of a Turkish-American student in the 1990s showcase a wonderfully idiosyncrat...

Read More >

NoViolet Bulawayo: ‘I’m encouraged by this new generation that wants better’

The Booker-shortlisted author talks about Zimbabwe after Mugabe - and drawing on Orwell for her bril...

Read More >

Mother’s Boy by Howard Jacobson review – a captivatingly melodramatic memoir

The writer’s account of his tortured journey to adulthood is wildly lacking in proportion, and all ...

Read More >

‘It felt horrific to be in Britain as a Muslim after 9/11’: Pankaj Mishra and Kamila Shamsie in conversation

The writers discuss problems of representation, class, the culture wars and how fiction is a great w...

Read More >

The Reactor by Nick Blackburn review – the fallout of grief

From nuclear meltdowns to Bob Dylan, associations come thick and fast in a therapist’s memoir about...

Read More >