Longlisted for The Man Booker Prize 2016
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At the bitter end of the 1960s, upon his return home from combat in the Vietnam War, twenty-two-year old Eugene Allen writes a novel called HYSTOPIA. It is set in a strangely destabilized historical moment, where President Kennedy is entering his third term in office, and a new federal agency maintains the mental health of returning soldiers by wiping their memories through drugs and therapy, while those beyond help roam at will, re-enacting the atrocities they have witnessed. Outlandish and tender, funny and violent, timely and historical, Hystopia is a wild, gonzo experience about the nature of trauma, homecoming, and the redemptive power of storytelling.
Hystopia is a thrilling novel - daring, immensely readable and also unexpectedly funny. David Means is that lucky (and brilliant) writer: a man in full possession of a vision.
Means takes a truer, harder look at the frailties and strengths of humanity than most authors dare . . . A work of meta-fiction that crackles with life and menace.
[This] dark acid trip of a novel reads like a phantasmagorical mash-up of David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest, Charlie Kaufman's screenplay Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and Michael Herr's Vietnam classic, Dispatches.
Brilliant. Nothing but. Hystopia goes straight to the heart of the American darkness, that most strange and twisted place where our wars, those perfect storms of high-tech mayhem and idiot blunder, cohabit with what we love to advertise as our virtue, our freedoms, our God-blessed mission to save the world. David Means's extraordinary book bends history-to paraphrase one of the novel's characters-no less violently than we've bent ourselves with our non-stop warmaking of the past fifty years.
Brilliant . . . the writing is beautiful and exuberant, moving and funny, and always one step ahead. The descriptions of getting stoned are as vivid as the landscapes. Means's characters live in a state of constant sensory attention that keeps them always attuned to the texture of tar, the smell of lakes and trees, the taste of carbon
A riveting, hypnotic dystopia of Vietnam combat veterans during the (fictional) second JFK administration. Amazing writing-not for the faint of heart. Nuggets of beauty glowing in a pan of pain.
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