Review of ‘The Wall’ by John Lanchester

A frighteningly plausible dystopia, The Wall is set in the near future after an event called the Change. As a political fable it’s not exactly subtle. The message is that climate change + anti-immigration policies = total disaster.

The story is narrated by Kavanagh, a young man who, like the others of his generation, has to do a two-year stint as a Defender on the Wall which surrounds the country (not named but obviously Britain). The Wall keeps out both the encroaching sea and the Others, desperate people who have nowhere else to go. The older generations feel guilty for getting the world into this mess and are unable to connect with the younger people who have experienced life on the Wall.

I liked the narrative style, which was direct and engaging. However, the story is written as if even paragraphs are being rationed. Whole action scenes take place within large chunks of text, so it’s not always easy to focus on. Another problem is that Defending the Wall is boring (when not being invaded by Others) and when boredom is described, it’s, well, boring. Generally I liked the book but I found myself skim-reading the less interesting bits, waiting for something to happen.

In summary, this novel is a bit too obvious in its meanings. However, it’s an intriguing read and a warning for the future.

Published in 2019 by Faber & Faber.

10 thoughts on “Review of ‘The Wall’ by John Lanchester”

    1. Thanks! I took a chance as although I hadn’t read any of his others, the book was part of an offer at Waterstones and sounded intriguing.

  1. Great review, I love your line ‘the story is written as if even paragraphs are being rationed’ that’s a great way to put it 🙂 This sounds like an interesting book and released just at the right time. It isn’t subtle, but I’m definitely interested in this now that it seems our country could certainly be going in that direction. A shame it’s not brilliant though.

    1. Thanks! 🙂
      I really don’t like to read overly long paragraphs.
      As a foretelling of the future, it seems very possible. It’s not one of the best I’ve read though.

    1. Exactly! It was intriguing and seems like it could come true… but wasn’t always riveting.

    1. Thanks Jee! 🙂
      It’s less of a dystopia, more of a prediction which I’m sure is very realistic :/

    1. Thanks! It’s certainly a warning for the future. I would still recommend it, just with caution 😀

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