John Lanchester, The Wall

A dystopian novel, taking place in our possible near(ish) future, describes the life of a Defender. The idea seems interesting, in theory, specially because I always enjoy a good dystopia, but in the end it wasn’t. The pace is very slow, at times boring.

The premises of that new society are there, interesting, but that is about everything we get in this novel. The comparison of the Others to the current migrant crisis is obvious, but the symbolism of the mute/strange/insane/lonely recluse that communicates only by papers remained unclear to me. It is an compelling commentary on what the state does to its citizens, the only thing to expect from the state is the worst case scenario because that is what always happens in the end.

The life at sea, outside the Wall, outside of society, is a life outside of the social contract, life in the state of nature. I was expecting a more grim outcome, but Lancaster wants to suggest that people are more themselves in society than when they are outside of it, they constantly kill and act ruthlessly with the blessing of the state and policy.

What is reality, the life before or after being put to sea? Was nothing real before the sea or was everything before the sea real? The life at sea being a delirium and life after death?

This novel keeps you thinking it is going to take you somewhere entrancing and fresh, but that doesn’t happen.

I liked the ending that takes us back to the beginning evoking the possibility that some of it might not have been real, but only a narrated story, as any novel already is.

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