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Pocketmags Digital Magazines
Pocketmags Digital Magazines

The frozen ones

Don DeLillo’s satire on a futuristic “faith-based technology” is rigorously intellectual and moving, argues Elaine Showalter

Zero K

by Don DeLillo (Picador, £16.99)

Early in Don DeLillo’s new novel Zero K, a young American named Jeff Lockhart eats breakfast in the “food unit” of a remote and mysterious facility. “What is this we are eating?” he asks a man nearby wearing a “monk’s cloak” of purple embellished with gold. “It’s called morning plov,” the man replies. I looked up “plov” and discovered that it is a popular Uzbek casserole of pilaf and mutton, the comfort food of Russia.

Still, plov sounds drab and Orwellian to English-speaking ears, somewhere between the vile breakfast food “Filboid Studge” of the Saki short story and the poisoned Kool-Aid drunk by followers of cult leader Jim Jones. The detail is ominous, and when Jeff explores the labyrinthine corridors of the facility, he encounters long halls of screens which show horrifyingly realistic scenes of violence and catastrophe: floods, fires, tornadoes, self-immolation, mass migrations and plagues.

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About Prospect Magazine

In Prospect’s April issue: Sam Tanenhaus profiles Donald Trump, the leading candidate for the Republican Party Presidential nomination and asks if Trump makes it to the Oval Office, what would he do? Stephen Glover, examines what is happening at the Guardian as the newspaper looks to cut costs. Ferdinand Mount says Tony Blair transformed Britain but he should have cared more about the Labour Party. Also in this issue: Richard Dearlove, the former head of MI5, says that Brexit would not damage the UK’s security and Christopher de Bellaigue questions whether France’s clampdown on radicals is having the right effect. Plus Miranda France looks at the legacy of Don Quixote and the Duel asks: “Should the Church of England be disestablished”?