Which side of The Wall Are you on?
Half the thrill of books which predict a terrifying future is guessing when the fiction might become reality.
George Orwell only gave us 35 years to get ready for 1984, but if you are thinking of reading John Lanchester’s gripping The Wall, do it now before it all comes true.
His Wall keeps out two things: immigrants and the rising tides of climate change, two things President Trump already wants to hold at bay: physically with his own wall, and politically by wishing global warming away.
Lanchester creates a future Britain which is all too recognisable from the present, with a National Service-style take on the UK Border Force, a nation living off its past glories and an elite living off everyone else.
But the book is not a polemic. It’s a genuine thriller, even more thrilling because you care more about how the action affects the characters than just enjoying the action – and there’s plenty – itself.
Any change of heart you might feel after reading it comes not just from Lanchester skewering our self-serving values, but from portraying those he calls the Others – the frequently deadly would-be immigrants – so realistically that we can recognise ourselves in them.
We in the West know that thanks to our selfishness we are the wrong side of history. This book makes us hope – selfishness again – that when all this comes true we’ll end up on the right side of that wall.
Book here to hear John Lanchester talk about The Wall: July 20, Palace Hotel, Buxton, 5pm.