Sauma knows that we all want life to be more than it is; that we long for the connections it offers to be fuller and richer. But she is especially astute about the risks involved in human love, and how rare it is that we take them. All those conversations that should happen, but don’t; the things we are too frightened to say, the decisions we leave until it is too late...Tinged with melancholy and yearning, this novel is wry and frequently beautiful, and its culmination is surprising and deeply moving.
Iris doesn’t love her job or her boyfriend and feels anxious all the time, aware of a vast disconnect between what’s on social media and the misery of her own life...
Her application is successful and she heads off to Nyx, but, before long, she begins to regret not being more careful about what she wished for.
Weird, wonderful and beautifully written.
Iris Cohen leads a futile life in creative east London, helping a marketing agency with its consumer brand “stories”, eating chips on the bus and having hangovers. Life could be so different on Planet Nyx, where a human colony is growing organic food on an indoor farm...
The wormhole (little more than a device, since the book doesn’t feel like science fiction and we don’t hear much about it) connects two faces of the story. In the first, and perhaps more impressive, Sauma has the horrors of the workplace nailed with satirical precision, while the second, with Iris on Nyx, shifts into something more melancholy.
The real interest lies in Iris’s private psychodrama. When she leaves Earth, she’s hoping that her mother, Eleanor, will ask her to stay, but Eleanor has kept her own counsel ever since her husband killed himself when Iris was five – a factor, it’s implied, in Iris’s teenage experience of suicidal depression, after she was tricked into giving a friend’s boyfriend a blowjob on camera at a party.
The second novel from the author of Flesh and Bone and Water has, at first glance, a familiar premise: a twentysomething in London who drinks too much, stays out too late, spends too much time on social media, hates her job (as a "digital innovation architect" at a creative agency) and hopes, vaguely, for more in life. But in Sauma's beautifully written novel Iris Cohen has another option, moving to Nyx, a terrestrial planet without Instagram and online dating, to start afresh.