An amazing novel by Karen Thomson Walker that feature a sixth-grade girl facing the end of the world in her California suburb. Too dull for the YA market, it’s been dressed up as an affecting literary novel for adults, one of the more depressing trends in modern publishing.
That Random House reportedly paid $1 million for this manuscript may be all the evidence we need that we’re living in the final days. (This isn’t just an American problem: A British publisher apparently paid almost that much, and there are reports of lucrative deals in Italy, Spain and Germany.) The Great Recession was supposed to have wrung this kind of irrational exuberance from the publishing world, but I guess the last trump hasn’t sounded yet.
And who knows, Random House may somehow earn back its advance. Thousands of people are duped into reading perfectly ordinary books just to see what all the fuss is about. A former editor with Simon & Schuster, Walker is well-connected: Her dust jacket sports a literary who’s who of blurbs; on Sunday, the New York Times ran the obligatory featurette.
Scientists scramble to explain the Earth’s slowing rotation; politicians advise Americans to keep shopping; Julia’s mother grows more paranoid.
A patina of sci-fi develops around the edges of the story as the Earth keeps slowing and the days lengthen. We hear about efforts to develop night corn, doctors struggle to explain an epidemic of motion sickness, and the power grid buckles under the increasing demand for artificial light. But those technical challenges are not Walker’s primary concern, and her 11-year-old narrator can’t do anything but mention them in passing as her mom and dad go about their lives while the planet dies.
Wow! This novel takes you into a whole new imaginative adventure.