Dystopian NovelsSix NYRB Classics
Steel yourself and dive into six surreal, sepulchral, and ultimately, eerily familiar worlds. Begin with two novels from the ever-iconoclastic Vladimir Sorokin. In the fractured, neo-feudal world of Telluria (newly available in English), people are united only by their appetite for tellurium—a sometimes deadly drug. In Sorokin’s Ice Trilogy, set in near-future Russia, the object of delusional obsession is ice.
From Ernst Jünger and D.G. Compton are two uncannily prescient fables of technological overdrive. Jünger’s The Glass Bees revolves around a media magnate and the unemployed veteran who applies to assist with the unsavory side of his business. In Compton’s The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe, death has been (nearly) eradicated, and a rare case of suffering provides the potential for lucrative spectacle. The lines between surveillance and entertainment soon blur.
Take a tour through the topsy-turvy, macabre Moscow of Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky’s Memories of the Future, or roam the post-apocalyptic landscape of Guido Morselli’s Dissipatio H.G. alongside the last man on earth. Written in the 1920s Soviet Union, Memories of the Future was deemed unpublishable in Russia. It took half a century for this darkly comic story to see the light of day. Of Dissipatio H.G., Jhumpa Lahiri said that she can “think of few works of literature more appropriate for our acutely isolating and endangered times.”