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Satin Island

Tom McCarthy

Meet U. – a talented and uneasy figure currently pimping his skills to an elite consultancy in contemporary London.  His job title is ‘corporate anthropologist’; his employers expect him to hel decode and manipluate the world around them.  But U. spends his days procrastinating, meandering through endless buffer-zones of information and growing obsessed wihtthe images with which this world bombards him on a daily basis: oil spills, African traffic jams, roller-blade processions, zombie parads.  Is there a secret logic holding all these images together – a codex tat, once cracked, will unlock the master-meaning of our times?  Might it have something to do with South Pacific Cargo Cults, or the dead parachutists in the news?  Perphaps; perhaps not.

As U. oscillates between the visionary and the vagure, brilliance and bullshit, his disconnected notes from underground emerge as Satin Island, an impassioned and exquisite novel for our disjointed times.

First published by Jonathan Cape (Penguin Random House) in 2015.

A related article by Tom, published in the Guardian, can be found here.
A short film based on the novel, made with filmmaker Johan Grimonprez can be seen here, and another made with BBC’s Newsnight, can be seen here.

Accolades

  • Short-listed for the Goldsmiths Prize (2015)
  • Short-listed for the Man Booker Prize (2015)

Reviews

“Curiously satisfying…As if Kafka and J.G.Ballard had got together to write a Thomas Pynchon novel, with a volume of Nietzche to hand – yet for all that [Satin Island] is singular, original, and its somber way, profound”.
John Banville, The New York Review Of Books

A work of f***ing genius and I love the s*** out of it. He has knocked it thoroughly out of the park”.
Stuart Hammond, Dazed & Confused

“Dizzyingly ambitious…Reading a McCarthy novel is like being in a McCarthy novel: everything is part of a fizzing network, the scope of which can never be fully apprehended”.
The Telegraph

“I read it in a sitting… [McCarthy’s] most accessible work, but that does not diminish its intellectual glint and rigour nor its stifled empathy and halting humanity”.
Stuart Kelly, Scotsman

“This novel of ideas is begging to be read and reread for meaning with pens, diagrams, and maybe even a dossier or two thrown in for good measure”. Publishers Weekly

“Curiously satisfying… As if Kafka and J.G.Ballard had got together to write a Thomas Pynchon novel, with a volume of Nietzche to hand – yet for all that [Satin Island] is singular, original, and in its somber way, profound”.  John Banville, The New York Review of Books

“A strange, seductive, many-tentacled new novel that manages in barely 200 pages to name rather a lot of what’s taking place (ed: in contemporary society)”. The Boston Globe

“Dazzling…Satin Island transcends the lifelessness of the dutifully plotted tale”. The Atlantic

“Smart, shimmering and thought-provoking.  (McCarthy is) a born novelist, a pretty fantastic one, who has figured out a way to make cultural theory funny, scary and suspenseful — in other words, compulsively readable.”.  New York Times

“Dazzling, funny”.  Nashua Telegraph

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