The Wall

New Directions. Jun. 2022. 248p. tr. from German by Shaun Whiteside. ISBN 9780811231947. pap. $16.95. SF
Austrian writer Haushofer’s 1963 cult classic enters the mind of a nameless woman staying in a remote hunting lodge when an invisible wall inexplicably closes her off from a world that seems to have suddenly ended. Two and a half years later she decides to document her experiences, in hopes that someone might someday read it. Her detailed reportage feels utterly plausible, reminiscent of great memoirs of solitude, albeit a far more radical solitude than that of Thoreau or May Sarton. The mystery of her situation and the practical demands of survival gradually give place to the more profound challenge of grasping her selfhood, suddenly loosed from the roles, norms, and expectations of the patriarchy, capitalism, and all society whatsoever save that of a dog, a cow, a cat, and their offspring. Vivid and searching contemplations on the world around and within her draw readers to consider their own existence. This new edition features a perceptive afterword by Claire-Louise Bennett, author of the similarly ruminative Pond.
VERDICT Haushofer’s thought-provoking masterpiece stands as a touchstone for popular literary post-apocalypses by such authors as Emily St. John Mandel and Ling Ma and is certain to be a life-changing read for many.
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