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Come Join Our Disease Reviews

Come Join Our Disease by Sam Byers

Come Join Our Disease

Sam Byers

4.44 out of 5

5 reviews

Imprint: Faber & Faber
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Publication date: 18 Mar 2021
ISBN: 9780571360086

'A savvy, subtle chronicler of contemporary malaise.' Financial Times From the author of Perfidious Albion, a darkly comic and profoundly affecting novel about resistance, radicalism and redemption. Maya is homeless.

3 stars out of 5
Jude Cook
5 May 2021

"a manifesto for those who refuse to join the sinister dance of tech-platformed positivity and its imperative to keep up, to compete, to always succeed"

If the measured elegance of Byers’s prose often seems at odds with the novel’s descriptions of bodily functions (certain paragraphs relating to Maya’s bowels will never be unread), then maybe this reinforces the book’s message. Only fearless, discordant acts of resistance will ever be effective against the airbrushed hegemony of social media participation and global corporate players who control it (and, by extension, Byers argues, us). Come Join Our Disease is a manifesto for those who refuse to join the sinister dance of tech-platformed positivity and its imperative to keep up, to compete, to always succeed.


4 stars out of 5
9 Apr 2021

"This darkly comic satire examines the commoditisation of ‘wellness’ and the malaise brought on by its rejection"

Byers’ sharply focused prose imbues even the everyday with a hyper-real quality, everything “throbbing at life’s unique frequency”, and he revels in the Swiftian grotesque, describing putrefaction with an almost mystical grandeur...
Yet Come Join Our Disease is a blistering critique of 21st-century life. By turns unnerving, disgusting and enthralling, the novel exposes the limits of radicalism, and the alienation inevitable in a society where even altruism has become a commodity.

5 stars out of 5
6 Apr 2021

"gloriously nauseating... (a) bold, unflinching novel about a true nihilist "

“Why must there always be ideas?” rages Maya, the narrator of this disturbingly exceptional novel. “Why is nothing too much to ask for?” Where Sam Byers’s previous two works have delighted in the intricacies of the modern world, minutely satirising the compromises we make – socially, politically, commercially – this one drives a singular tunnel to the heart of what it means to be a human. Maya is intent on hacking away every last vestige of civilisation until – trigger warning – she is lying happily in her own piss, shit and other assorted effluvia...So, no, this is not a comfortable read. Not just because of the many effluvia-based scenes, whose immediacy is always mitigated by the narration, which, recollected in later tranquillity, is always honed and articulate, the vocabulary considered and precise. It’s more that the discomfort – the dis-ease of the title – arises directly from Maya’s own intensity, from her willingness to push herself to the total self-abnegation she craves. She blazes with all the anger of Doris Lessing’s The Good Terrorist, she has the unflinching doggedness of Minghella’s Gemma from radio play Cigarettes and Chocolate, but she wants so much less than either of them.

4 stars out of 5
20 Mar 2021

"Sam Byers evokes a dark world of alienation in this politically astute novel"

yers is the author of two previous satirical novels, Idiopathy (2013) and Perfidious Albion (2018). His overriding target is the hollowing out of public discourse in the social media age (and, in this case, self-help culture), which, to take the example of Charlie Brooker, can be played for comedic (Nathan Barley) or nightmarish (Black Mirror) effect. This considerably darker new work falls into the latter category. Politically astute, endlessly quotable and highly visual (there is considerable filmic potential – at least for an audience with a strong stomach): the guy can write, is one smart cookie, and Come Join Our Disease is quite outstanding.

5 stars out of 5
Johanna Thomas-Corr
7 Mar 2021

"This might be filthy and depraved, but it’s a brilliant, risk-taking novel for our times"

Come Join Our Disease is so bold and interesting that I can imagine it becoming a cult classic, but even saying this dismisses it to the realms of something trendy and niche. Byers’s mastery of tone and attentiveness to every psychological shift confirms him as one of the most accomplished novelists of his generation. The world he creates is so fully realised that anything you read afterwards feels a bit half-hearted. Less than 20 pages from the end a meditation on human disintegration — and the love that can arise from sharing in one another’s decay — moved me to tears. It felt piercingly wise and, dare I say it, beautiful.