"It’s not clear what it will take to finally convince us that it’s time to panic about climate change, but works of fiction such as
The Wall have an important role to play."
Washington Post - Stephen Dyson
"Bold and confident fiction that highlights the current American and British issues of Trumpism and Brexit. It also examines the increasingly wide social and political divide of the young and the old."
Los Angeles Times - Ant Jones
"A powerful thought experiment."
New York Review of Books - Giles Harvey
Washington Post - Ron Charles
"An unsettling, compulsive and brilliant portrait of powerlessness."
Financial Times - John Day
"A novel that ranks alongside Margaret Atwood’s
Oryx and Crake and the oeuvre of Kim Stanley Robinson as a fictional meditation on what climate change may mean for the planet."
The Wall] gathers momentum as it goes, and few readers will stop until they reach its final page.
The New York Times Book Review - Alec Nevala-Lee
Capital) imagines coming of age amid the xenophobia and despair of a world ravaged by climate change in his dynamite dystopian novel. Twenty-something Joseph Kavanagh arrives for his mandatory two-year service as a Defender of the Wall surrounding his coastal country. It has survived the massive ecological devastation and sea level rise known as the Change, and its Defenders kill anyone from outside (known as Others) who tries to enter. Kavanagh suffers bracing cold, prolonged tedium, and the exacting demands of his company’s captain amid the fear of attack; any Defenders who fail are put out to sea. He gets to know his fellow soldiers and develops an incipient crush on androgynous and initially taciturn Hifa. After a war games training, a young politician warns the Defenders of rumors that the Others are increasingly desperate and some inside the country have been treasonously plotting ways to help them. Cracking under pressure, Hifa offers to have a child with Kavanagh, as parents receive a reprieve from duty, but their plans are obliterated by a surprise attack that has devastating consequences. This terrifyingly resonant depiction of desperation will spark lively discussions about the responsibilities climate change is restructuring, and is electrifying storytelling to boot. (Mar.)
"Lanchester’s novel…elegantly and chillingly imagines how current political attitudes might play out as the repercussions of climate change grow more severe."
The Wall is something new: almost an allegory, almost a dystopian-future warning, partly an elegant study of the nature of storytelling itself. I was hugely impressed by it."
New York magazine - Boris Kachka
"As in all good dystopian fiction, Lanchester shows us a world that could become a reality…[He] maintains measured, elegant prose–creating an assuredly human dystopian novel."
"Bold and confident fiction that highlights the current American and British issues of Trumpism and Brexit. "
"Thrilling…A topical and deftly satirical novel."
Wall Street Journal - Anna Mundow
"Gripping…Full of tense action and sudden reversals…Few readers will stop until they reach its final page."
New York Times Book Review - Alec Nevala-Lee
The Wall, John Lanchester takes our current political climate to its terrible and logical extreme. A harrowing, brilliant, and troublingly plausible vision of the future."
"A chilling reminder of the ease with which myopia can turn to dystopia."
Houston Chronicle - Michael Magras
"Nothing before the sea was real": a bleak portrait of a future world shaped by global climate change and refugees desperate for a few square feet of dry land.
In the Britain of the near future, there are no beaches. Indeed, as the draftee called Kavanagh tells it, "there isn't a single beach left, anywhere in the world." Kavanagh, nicknamed Chewy by his fellow Defenders, has just one job: He has to guard a spot along the Wall ("officially it is the National Coastal Defense Structure") that now rings the island fortress. It's a preternaturally cold place, miserable, boring, but the stakes are high, for if any of the refugees called "The Others" get over the wall, one of the Defenders is put out to sea, exiled forever. Meanwhile, that Other, when inevitably captured, becomes one of "The Help," essentially enslaved; as the mother of Hifa, a fellow Defender, says, "Another human being at one's beck and call, just by lifting a finger, simply provided to one, in effect one's personal property…though of course they are technically the property of the state." Kavanagh is diligent if bitter, especially toward the parents who avert their eyes when they see him, ashamed that they let the Change occur, ashamed that their world has come to all this. Unashamed, as impenetrable as the Wall, is the Captain, Kavanagh's commander, who in time reveals that the monolithic state of elites, soldiers, and all the rest is less impervious than it appears, bringing on a sequence of events that finds Kavanagh, Hifa, and the Captain on the outside, in a Hobbesian world, desperate to get back in. Lanchester's view is unblinking, his prose assured, a matter of "if" and "then": This is what happens when the sea rises, this is what happens when an outsider lands in a place where life has little meaning and the only certain things are the Wall, the cold, the water, and death.
Dystopian fiction done just right, with a scenario that's all too real.