Non 1001 Book Review: Zero K Don DeLillo
Don DeLillo has several books on the 1001 list and a few of us predicted that his latest book would make the Man Booker longlist. One of our contributors hated the book and another contributor loved it. Let us know what you thought of it. Here’s my (Book Worm’s) review of the book.
Zero K by Don DeLillo
Published in: 2016
Reviewed by: Book Worm
Find it here: Zero K
This ARC was provided by Pan Macmillan (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis from Goodreads: The wisest, richest, funniest, and most moving novel in years from Don DeLillo, one of the great American novelists of our time—an ode to language, at the heart of our humanity, a meditation on death, and an embrace of life.
Jeffrey Lockhart’s father, Ross, is a billionaire in his sixties, with a younger wife, Artis Martineau, whose health is failing. Ross is the primary investor in a remote and secret compound where death is exquisitely controlled and bodies are preserved until a future time when biomedical advances and new technologies can return them to a life of transcendent promise. Jeff joins Ross and Artis at the compound to say “an uncertain farewell” to her as she surrenders her body.
“We are born without choosing to be. Should we have to die in the same manner? Isn’t it a human glory to refuse to accept a certain fate?”
These are the questions that haunt the novel and its memorable characters, and it is Ross Lockhart, most particularly, who feels a deep need to enter another dimension and awake to a new world. For his son, this is indefensible. Jeff, the book’s narrator, is committed to living, to experiencing “the mingled astonishments of our time, here, on earth.”
Don DeLillo’s seductive, spectacularly observed and brilliant new novel weighs the darkness of the world—terrorism, floods, fires, famine, plague—against the beauty and humanity of everyday life; love, awe, “the intimate touch of earth and sun.”
Zero K is glorious.
Book Worm’s Thoughts: This is a book about life and death and the possibility of a stage in between the two that could lead to immortality.
The central action in the book is set in a secure facility somewhere in the remote desert near Afghanistan. The facility is buried underground and, once inside, the outside world ceases to exist. Visitors are subjected to bizarre displays of mannequins, video walls, and the posed bodies of others who have already joined the cryogenic program.
I loved the setting of the facility and DeLillo really captures the claustrophobic atmosphere perfectly. I also loved the way Jeff, the narrator, needed to name everyone and everything to make things real, even if the names and stories he gave people only existed in his head.
The book poses some interesting questions about immortality and its potential impact on art. Does being immortal devalue art in all its forms? What about the ethics of granting the rich immortality while denying the rest of the population? Zero K gives us a very scary insight into how those in cryogenic sleep may experience it. In fact the aim of this particular facility is to experience being totally alone with only your thoughts and words, and that frankly terrifies me.
Overall this is a very intelligent and complex book that could probably benefit multiple readings.
Who would like this: I would recommend this to those who enjoy books about family relationships, those who like futuristic fiction, and those who enjoy a book that challenges how things are seen.
Want to try it for yourself? You can find a copy here: Zero Z
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