Red Pill

Author(s): Hari Kunzru

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'The book I wish I'd written? Whatever Hari Kunzru is publishing next' - Aravind Adiga From the author of White Tears comes a breathtaking, state-of-the-world novel about one man's struggle to defend his values and create a reality free from the shadows of the past.   'From now on when you see something, you're seeing it because I want you to see it. When you think of something, it'll be because I want you to think about it...'   And with those words, the obsession begins.   A writer has left his family in Brooklyn for a three month residency at the Deuter Centre in Berlin, hoping for undisturbed days devoted to artistic absorption.   When nothing goes according to plan, he finds himself holed up in his room watching Blue Lives, a violent cop show with a bleak and merciless worldview. One night at a party he meets Anton, the charismatic creator of the show, and strikes up a conversation.   It is a conversation that leads him on a journey into the heart of moral darkness. A conversation that threatens to destroy everything he holds most dear, including his own mind.   Red Pill is a novel about the alt-right, online culture, creativity, sanity and history. It tells the story of the 21st century through the prism of the centuries that preceded it, showing how the darkest chapters of our past haunt our present. More than anything, though, this is a novel about love and how it can endure in a world where everything else seems to have lost all meaning.     Praise for White Tears 'Exquisitely attuned' Washington Post 'Electrifying, subversive and wildly original' TheNew Yorker 'A book that everyone should be reading right now' TIME Magazine   'Haunting, doom-drenched, genuinely and viscerally disturbing...' The Independent      

______________________________STELLA'S REVIEW:A middle-aged writer living in Brooklyn with his human rights lawyer wife and three-year-old daughter is having a crisis. He has writer’s block and is deeply subsumed by a malaise that he can’t shrug off. When an opportunity comes to attend a writers’ residency in Berlin, this seems the perfect way to escape the mill of the freelance writer and the distraction of family life. He’s had the first-book success, but time has passed and the pressure is on to produce the next work. The romantic notion of the lone writer in a creative hub situated on the shores of Lake Wannsee seems ideal. Yet the Deuter Centre is not what he expected. There is no ‘being alone’: participation is expected with the other residents and staying in your room is frowned upon. He is encouraged to take his place in the library, to converse with others, most of whom he finds unbearable, and to eat in the dining room. His work on the new book about "The construction of the self on lyric poetry” becomes more elusive than ever. As our narrator’s inability to write continues, his downward spiral escalates. Initially, he walks around the village, the lake, and through the grounds of the house in a contemplative mood, really avoidance, delving into the history of the German Romantics, in particular Heinrich von Kleist. His obsession with Kleist’s suicide pact keeps his mind occupied. As the director of the Centre becomes increasingly vexed by the writer’s non-participation, our narrator’s resistance ratchets up a level. He avoids the other residents, pretends to be writing in the library and spends his spare time immersed in watching a violent crime drama, Blue Lives, on his laptop obsessively. His paranoia is on the rise and he suspects he is being watched — and maybe this is so — the Deuter Centre has security cameras and a slightly oppressive air. Cut to the second part of the book, an interlude in the narrator’s story. He meets Monika, the cleaner at the house, by chance at a cafe in the village and while, at first, she resists his attempts to talk with her — he’s desperate for human connection in this foreign place where nothing is going to plan — she succumbs, possibly out of pity or empathy. This interlude entitled Zersetzung (Undermining) tells Monika’s story of being in an all-girl punk band as a drummer in East Berlin and the workings of the Stasi as they infiltrate what they deem to be disruptive forces and anything that resonates with 'freedom' or the West. From rebel to informer, Monika’s story is realistic and tragic. Kunzru is starting to draw us a picture, one of obsessive paranoia and authoritarian dictates. And here the novel ramps up. Our narrator meets the director of Blue Lights at a party. Anton is as fascinating as he is frightening, and the writer’s obsession with him deepens to a dangerous level — one where he will lose his mind. Anton is a monster moulded by cynicism and extreme views dressed casually in a cloak of bonhomie and intellectual gymnastics, toying with the writer and using the popular culture channels of his show and his fame to inflame extreme behaviour. When our protagonist is thrown out of the residency programme and instructed to fly home, he instead starts to follow Anton, culminating in a confrontation on a remote Scottish Island, a confrontation which will eventually get him home to Brooklyn, in time to usher in the 2016 American election. The title of the book is drawn from the film The Matrix, in which Neo is offered the red pill or the blue. The red pill will free his mind and allow him to see reality, horrendous as it might be, while the blue will let him live in blissful ignorance. Kunzru’s Red Pill feels more prescient than ever, as the world is rocked by the rise of the alt-right worldwide and the subsequent recognition by the liberal left that something is not right, that the comforts of the past decades have opened a window that has let in a foul draught.


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Product Information




General Fields

  • : 9781471194481
  • : Scribner
  • : Scribner
  • : July 2020
  • : h234mm x w153mm
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Hari Kunzru
  • : Paperback
  • : English
  • : 823/.92
  • : 320