Kingdom Come

Overview

Never before published in America?J. G. Ballard's capstone novel, a thriller that envisions the collapse of our consumerist culture.

A violent novel filled with insidious twists, Kingdom Come follows the exploits of Richard Pearson, a rebellious, unemployed advertising executive, whose father is gunned down by a deranged mental patient in a vast shopping mall outside Heathrow Airport. When the prime suspect is released without charge, Richard?s suspicions are aroused. ...

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Kingdom Come: A Novel

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Overview

Never before published in America—J. G. Ballard's capstone novel, a thriller that envisions the collapse of our consumerist culture.

A violent novel filled with insidious twists, Kingdom Come follows the exploits of Richard Pearson, a rebellious, unemployed advertising executive, whose father is gunned down by a deranged mental patient in a vast shopping mall outside Heathrow Airport. When the prime suspect is released without charge, Richard’s suspicions are aroused. Investigating the mystery, Richard uncovers at the Metro-Centre mall a neo-fascist world whose charismatic spokesperson is whipping up the masses into a state of unsustainable frenzy. Riots frequently terrorize the complex, immigrant communities are attacked by hooligans, and sports events mushroom into jingoistic political rallies. In this gripping, dystopian tour de force, J.G. Ballard holds up a mirror to suburban mind rot, revealing the darker forces at work beneath the gloss of consumerism and flag-waving patriotism.

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Editorial Reviews

Observer
“Impressively packed with brilliant apercus.”
Financial Times
“Ballard, paradoxically, with all his characters gripped by obsession and necessity, is one of the great novelists of freedom.”
Scott Bradfield - New York Times Book Review
“Nobody ever hated the contemporary world with as much intensity and conviction as J.G. Ballard... In Kingdom Come, Ballard's latest batch of preapocalyptic savages are happily clad in freshly ironed soccer jerseys and getting ready to fight for the only thing they believe in anymore — shopping at the Metro-Centre...

[T]here's a lot of irony in Ballard. If his late (and very funny) books sound peculiar to American ears, it's probably because of his very English tendency to play almost everything he says, however outrageous, at moderate to low volumes. Unlike the noisier, New Yorkerish avant-garde types who like to shock and awe their readers, Ballard doesn't shout or swear or get in your face. Even his most disturbing obscenities...are as mannered and concise and unimpassioned as a GPS device's soothing, digitally modulated voice describing how to reach the next gas station.”

New York Times
“An assassination, an uprising and masses of people rallying to defend their sacred dome from attack. The temple they’re ready to die for is the Metro-Centre shopping mall, which represents the only meaning in J. G. Ballard’s biting, surreal vision of suburban London. “Consumerism is the one thing that gives us our sense of values,” one local citizen says of the belief system he actually despises. (He turns out to be behind the putsch to reclaim their town from retailers.) The author of 18 novels including Empire of the Sun, Ballard, who died in 2009, is more funny than preachy; there’s a certain glee in his spite, as when he writes about the slain leader of these devoted shoppers, the talk-show host of the mall’s cable channel: “Only his hair survived, a blond mane lying across the phlegm-soaked pillow."”
Jacob Silverman - The Daily Beast
“Ballard guides us through this unsettling environment, an exaggerated version of modern Britain, with a sure hand. His sentences, almost anthropological in tone, indicate a boiling over of tension… This is a novel about crowds—Don DeLillo would tip his hat in recognition—and the economic and social conditions that can be used to manipulate them. If the characters in Kingdom Come seem indistinct by comparison; if David Cruise doesn’t quite seem worthy of “the pale aura of suburban fame” that surrounds him—well, perhaps it’s because from this remove, it’s difficult to understand why people would launch into a melee over a waffle iron or camp out for a cell phone. But these things do happen, every year, and Ballard’s novel is at its best when it takes this behavior to its most frightening, but strangely possible, extremes.”
Anna Mundow - Barnes and Noble
“No other writer so effectively alienates his readers—and his protagonists—from an everyday reality that he reveals to be shifting, often nightmarish terrain. At the same time, he soothes us. In Kingdom Come, as in Ballard's short stories and in novels like Crash, the rhythmical balance of the sentences has a tranquilizing effect, like the shushing roar of the ceaseless traffic on the motorway outside Brooklands…. In his final, elegiac vision of suburban apocalypse, Ballard once again allows us to imagine the unthinkable.”
Tristan Deveney - The Millions
“...consumerism run amok deserves the pillorying it gets in Kingdom Come. The connections Ballard finds between boredom and neo-fascism are fascinating and disturbing, and they are presented with an experienced satirist’s deft art.”
Leroy Gumption - VICE Magazine
“This is the last book [Ballard] wrote before he died and both his most hilarious and his most terrifying, because it's about a racist middle-class revolt in the London suburbs that uncannily presage the rise of the real-life English Defense League, and also because the narrator is like an even more psychotic version of Richard Grant's character in How to Get Ahead in Advertising.”
New York Times Book Review
Nobody ever hated the contemporary world with as much intensity and conviction as J.G. Ballard... In Kingdom Come, Ballard's latest batch of preapocalyptic savages are happily clad in freshly ironed soccer jerseys and getting ready to fight for the only thing they believe in anymore — shopping at the Metro-Centre...

[T]here's a lot of irony in Ballard. If his late (and very funny) books sound peculiar to American ears, it's probably because of his very English tendency to play almost everything he says, however outrageous, at moderate to low volumes. Unlike the noisier, New Yorkerish avant-garde types who like to shock and awe their readers, Ballard doesn't shout or swear or get in your face. Even his most disturbing obscenities...are as mannered and concise and unimpassioned as a GPS device's soothing, digitally modulated voice describing how to reach the next gas station.— Scott Bradfield

The Daily Beast
Ballard guides us through this unsettling environment, an exaggerated version of modern Britain, with a sure hand. His sentences, almost anthropological in tone, indicate a boiling over of tension… This is a novel about crowds—Don DeLillo would tip his hat in recognition—and the economic and social conditions that can be used to manipulate them. If the characters in Kingdom Come seem indistinct by comparison; if David Cruise doesn’t quite seem worthy of “the pale aura of suburban fame” that surrounds him—well, perhaps it’s because from this remove, it’s difficult to understand why people would launch into a melee over a waffle iron or camp out for a cell phone. But these things do happen, every year, and Ballard’s novel is at its best when it takes this behavior to its most frightening, but strangely possible, extremes.— Jacob Silverman
The Millions
...consumerism run amok deserves the pillorying it gets in Kingdom Come. The connections Ballard finds between boredom and neo-fascism are fascinating and disturbing, and they are presented with an experienced satirist’s deft art.— Tristan Deveney
VICE Magazine
This is the last book [Ballard] wrote before he died and both his most hilarious and his most terrifying, because it's about a racist middle-class revolt in the London suburbs that uncannily presage the rise of the real-life English Defense League, and also because the narrator is like an even more psychotic version of Richard Grant's character in How to Get Ahead in Advertising.— Leroy Gumption
Library Journal
Recently deceased British novelist Ballard has been getting an upsurge of attention here. In this novel, which appeared in Great Britain in 2006, unemployed ad executive Richard Pearson's father is gunned down at a mall and the main suspect quickly released, leading Pearson to confront the mall's ranting spokesperson. A sustained attack on the status quo that did leave a few British readers numb.
Kirkus Reviews
Ballard (1930–2009) creates a world reminiscent of A Clockwork Orange and V for Vendetta in this novel of suburban fascism. At the heart of the narrative is the Brooklands Metro-Centre Mall, a monstrosity that feeds excess and consumerism. In a recent incident, not atypical of the violence that pervades this vision of modern British life, a man has been shot and killed at the mall. Held for his murder is Duncan Christie, a mental patient who was on day release when the incident occurred. This seems to be a cut-and-dried case, even to Richard Pearson, narrator and son of the victim, but a few anomalies crop up. For example, three witnesses emerge who claim that Christie was at one of the entrances to the mall at the time of the shooting…and these witnesses just happen to be Christie's physician, his psychiatrist and one of his former teachers. Pearson is not wrong in assuming this to be overly coincidental. In addition to the loss of his father, Pearson has other problems, for he has recently lost his job, pushed out of his position in an ad agency by his own wife. Pearson watches with some amazement the rise of quasi-fascist elements in this quasi-suburban setting that's starting to create its own reality, for "leafy Surrey" is no longer a suburb of London but rather a suburb of Heathrow. Troops dressed in St. George's shirts march in the streets, encouraging hooliganism and attacks against immigrant businesses; riots break out in sports arenas; and Pearson finds out his father might have had sympathies with the brown-shirted St. George's movement. Ballard writes brilliantly about the nightmarish underside of modern life, and this novel makes us poignantly aware of the loss of his voice.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780871404039
  • Publisher: Liveright Publishing Corporation
  • Publication date: 3/5/2012
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

J.G. Ballard was born in Shanghai in 1930 and lived in England from 1946 until his death in London in 2009. He is the author of nineteen novels, including Empire of the Sun, The Drought, and Crash, with many of them made into major films.
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