This is a quiet but deeply moving reflection on life in the aftermath of an environmental disaster. The unnamed narrator, along with her husband R and newborn son Z, evacuate London after it is hit by a flood of biblical proportions. They turn to refugee camps when it becomes apparent that they will not survive by themselves. Paranoid and traumatized, R leaves in hope of finding safer shelter. What follows is the narrator’s navigation not only of new motherhood but a new reality.
What stood out to me more than anything was how the author was able to convey so much without saying very much at all. Some events were described only in fragments – a single word, a facial expression, the tail end of a news report. Yet they conjure up vivid and occasionally harrowing pictures in the reader’s mind. The sense of a world forever changed is doubly reinforced by the Genesis-like prose peppered throughout the book. The writing is fluid and reads more like poetry than a novel. I was utterly captivated and found myself writing down quotes all the time.
What’s also unique is how human it is. The narrator changes nappies, makes friends with other evacuees, misses her husband. Ordinary life continues even in extraordinary circumstances. It’s a refreshing break from post-apocalyptic action sagas and presents a convincing, everyday image of people facing a humanitarian crisis. In a time such as ours, stories like this are needed more than ever.
In summary, this book is thoughtful, beautiful and unforgettable. A must-have on the GBC list.