December 22, 2007

Books: Millenium People by J.G. Ballard

This novel by J.G. Ballard is a black comedy set in early 21st century Britain. The narrator, David Markham, is a psychologist, whose ex-wife is killed by a terrorist bomb at Heathrow. No group comes forward and so Markham decides to investigate. His search leads him to an exclusive residential community called Chelsea Marina (actually in Fulham) where some of the residents are trying to start a revolution ~ the middle classes have become the new proletariat. In order to find out more about the Heathrow bomb, Markham has to become more involved in the revolt.

Throughout the novel, there are continual references to the meaninglessness of modern times, and the notion that with increased prosperity has come a spiritual/intellectual emptiness. Such serious issues are dealt with in a humourous way, with chapter titles such as 'Bonfire of the Volvos', and a group of demonstrators at a cat show being likened to 'an advancing chorus of an agit-prop musical' chanting "Moggie, moggie, moggie! Out, out, out!"

A thoroughly entertaining novel and a very astute assessment of modern life. Recommended.

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