A Cure for Suicide

Pantheon. Jul. 2015. 240p. ISBN 9781101870129. $23.95; ebk. ISBN 9781101870136. F
Ball (Silence Once Begun) has written another thought-provoking novel. In the thoroughly enigmatic beginning, a man awakes in a strange place knowing absolutely nothing about himself or even about being a person. Someone known as "the examiner" is his minder and teacher, telling him that he has had an accident in which he almost died and is recovering. Through the side narrative of the examiner, however, it becomes evident that the man has become this way because of an injection and that he is in an artificial society called the "Process of Villages." The second part, a tragic parenthesis, illustrates the purpose behind the injections; if we have not already guessed from the title, the participants in Part 1 have opted into an alternative to taking their own life. The last section is a form of backstage conversation, showing the intersection of the examiners and the examined.
VERDICT Here, the bleakness of Kafka's The Trial meets tragedy that is weirdly reminiscent of John Green's The Fault in Our Stars, with the burden of self and the possible solutions looming large. An interesting statement about personal ontology and the role of forgetting; highly recommended.
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