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ISBN: 9780593319604Availability: On Our Shelves NowPublished: Knopf - May 25th, 2021
Anna and her two brothers attend the bedside of their ailing mother in Tasmania while in the background the continent of Australia burns. Tommy had been caring for her until his two elder siblings, well-off, successful, self-assured, fly in and, in part due to their guilt over their long absence, almost immediately insist on increasingly extreme measures to ward off their mother’s death. This cruel familial landscape is set against the nightmarish backdrop of disappearing species and endless fires—a world in which people look at their phones incessantly, never at one another. Anna’s body parts begin to disappear as well, first a hand, then a knee, a breast…yet almost no one notices. As a metaphor for the fractured nature of our technology-driven lives, the invisibility in which we cloak one another due to our fixation on machines, the rapid diminishment of flora and fauna, Anna’s (and others’) vanishing limbs are horrifically effective. No easy book to read, this vision of the endgame that is dangerously close to our present reality is harrowing, the closely parsed and painful relationships among the siblings and their mother—a quietly magnificent character—at once shattering and salvific. As clear-eyed a portrayal of death and dying in today’s misbegotten world as I’ve read, this glimpse into the inferno pits our blindness to beauty and to love against their power to heal—or at least to offer hope. A magnificent and (if with anguish on the reader’s part) life-changing novel.