A monumental, genre-defying novel over 10 years in the making, Michel Faber's The Book of Strange New Things is a masterwork from a writer in full command of his many talents.
It begins with Peter, a devoted man of faith, as he is called to the mission of a lifetime, one that takes him galaxies away from his wife, Bea. Peter becomes immersed in the mysteries of an astonishing new environment, overseen by an enigmatic corporation known only as USIC. His work introduces him to a seemingly friendly native population struggling with a dangerous illness and hungry for Peter's teachings - his Bible is their "book of strange new things". But Peter is rattled when Bea's letters from home become increasingly desperate: typhoons and earthquakes are devastating whole countries, and governments are crumbling. Bea's faith, once the guiding light of their lives, begins to falter.
Editors Select, October - Michel Faber (The Crimson Petal and the White, Under the Skin) puts a new twist on the apocalypse genre with The Book of Strange New Things. I'm always a fan of seeing how authors describe the end of the world, and in Faber's upcoming novel, he adds a literary spin, examining the end of Earth from afar. A religious man is sent galaxies away from home, and he communicates with his Earth-bound wife as society collapses around her. This is the first book narrated by Josh Cohen in our store, so I'm interested to hear how he handles Faber’s moving and textured prose. Chris, Audible Editor
"The Book of Strange New Things is Michel Faber’s second masterpiece, every bit as luminescent and memorable as The Crimson Petal and the White. It is a portrait of a living, breathing relationship, frayed by distance; it’s an enquiry into the mountains faith can move and the mountains faith can’t move. It is maniacally gripping and vibrant with wit. I didn’t so much read The Book of Strange New Things as inhabit it." (David Mitchell)
"Michel Faber’s The Book of Strange New Things certainly lives up to its title. Faber, as he showed in Under the Skin, does strangeness brilliantly. I can’t remember being so continually and unfailingly surprised by any book for a long time, and part of the surprise is the tenderness and delicacy with which he shows an emotional relationship developing in one direction while withering in another. I found it completely compelling and believable, and admired it enormously." (Philip Pullman)
"Weird and disturbing, like any work of genius, this novel haunted me for the seven nights I spent reading it, and haunts me still. A story of faith that will mesmerize believers and non-believers alike, a story of love in the face of the Apocalypse, a story of humanity set in an alien world - The Book of Strange New Things is desperately beautiful, sad, and unforgettable." (David Benioff)
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Better than science fiction
A slow-reveal sci-fi, this novel clobbered me with its plot, unusual alien life and deep humanity.
It stands alone, a one-off that deserves a wide readership.
When the alien Jesus Lover 5 teaches Pastor Peter about Christianity in the face of death and distance, I shed a tear.
NO! I wanted it to last longer, so I teased out the readings. Perhaps a movie based on it would ease my need for more....
Don't be put off by the fact that the main character is a Christian minister to an alien world. Spreading the Christian word is not the point of the novel. On the other hand, it's not exactly NOT the point of the novel either. Read it and you'll understand that fine distinction.
- Christine A. Watson
- Bellows Water