In the Britain of a few tomorrows time, physical perfection is commonplace and self improvement has become an extinct expression: all the qualities men and women could aspire to can be purchased prior to birth. Genus is a time of genetic selection and enrichment - life chances come on a sliding scale according to wealth. For some there is no money or choice, and an underclass has evolved; London's King's Cross, or The Kross as it is now known, has become a ghetto for the Unimproved. In The Kross, the natural, the dated, the cheap and the dull, live a brittle and unenviable existence. But unrest is growing; tension is mounting and a murderer is abroad in these dark quarters...
Acclaimed author Jonathan Trigell's third novel is a breathtaking tour de force, exploring a dystopia of the not-too-distant-a future which will leave readers wondering not 'what if', as the original audience of Huxley's Brave New World did, but 'when'.
I am surprised to learn that Jonathen Trigell does not identify as a disabled artist. As an artist with disabilities myself, I thought surely here was a perspective I could recognise. And surely only a fellow member of the genetic underclass could have created such full characters. Holman, a visual artist who sees the beauty in a fettid world, partly by virtue of his own deformity, having the kind of disability distinguished by meeting disgust in the reactions of others combined with the constant invisible torture of pain. Crick, whose narrative propensities are bottle-necked into literary art by the loss of his sight. Surely, I thought, this is a work of disability arts? How delighted I am to be wrong!
This is a real work of art and craftsmanship. We are treated to prose-poems on the unlikeliest of subjects, and a rich density of plot. As an example of this genius, there is one character in the book whom we only meet briefly in the last few chapters. But his name tells an entire story - "Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair".
And this is a work of incisive social relevance. Like all good works of speculative fiction, it holds a magnifying mirror up to our present society. So accurate is this mirror that Trigell has given a savage account of the recent London riots, which was written before the riots even took place. The over-arching tension between ideologies of science and religion are integral to the story as a whole, not just background-painting.
And a host of diverse and seemingly disparate characters are masterfully woven into a plot that insistently moves forward, even beyond the end of the narrative itself. If you love brilliant language employed for masterful storytelling, this book will be a delicious treat for you.