My debut novel, a dystopian satire, was written during Obama’s presidency and is based on the real-life, American-made Stuxnet cyberweapon. But now, in the age of President Trump, much of my story has unexpectedly taken on new meaning; what once felt like a cautionary tale of what can happen in the future now feels like an urgent wake-up call for what could happen literally tomorrow. With renewed interest in dystopian books (‘1984’ became a best seller again back in January, ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ is now a Hulu show), this novel will resonate with readers for the remainder of Trump’s presidency and beyond; I imagine this won't be the last unpopular president we ever elect.
‘How To Win a War Or: The Young Man Who Got a Headache and Accidentally Saved the World’ [working title] is a satire about an it’s-the-end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it-and-I-feel-fine scenario: what if the U.S. dropped a bomb that wiped out nearly all the world’s population? How did it happen? What is life like afterward? And maybe life isn't so bad, at least not as bad as it used to be? Our narrator tries to answer these questions while unintentionally taking aim at the modern sacred cows of our post-9/11, post-truth world.
The story begins hundreds of years after the United States dropped the S.T.U.C.K.K.E.T. bomb that wiped out nearly all the earth’s population (whoops), where the world’s survivors are finally able to regroup and rebuild. Our unnamed narrator, a wannabe historian and incidental survivor of global holocaust, tells the story of Jackson Long III, the young photographer who inadvertently launched the S.T.U.C.K.K.E.T bomb. Our eager narrator doesn’t actually know all the details of the story – the bomb destroyed most of the world’s annals of history – but he takes it upon himself to tell Jackson’s tale, even if he has to fill in some of the blanks as he goes along. The beginning of the end of the world as we once knew it begins (we think) when Jackson is kidnapped by the American military and brought to the front lines of a smaller, no-big-deal war to find and photograph “the enemy,” who are after a secret American super weapon the size of a tiny pill.
Four comp titles:
‘Submission’ by Michel Houellebecq (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2015): Both stories are based on giant “What if?” questions. Also, both our protagonists aren’t the most noble of gentlemen.
‘Super Sad True Love Story’ by Gary Shteyngart (Random House, 2010): Yes yes America is burning, but will I ever find love?
‘The Sellout’ by Paul Beatty (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015): Both are snarky satires that deal with a man fighting isolation and daddy issues while challenging sacred American cows and becoming famous for all the wrong reasons; Beatty tackles race, I take on war.
‘Station Eleven’ by Emily St. John Mandel (Knopf, 2014): Because life goes on, even after near human annihilation. Also, both stories observe our delicate, and ever changing, relationship with history.
Who’s going to read this novel?
Fans of satire, dystopia, and post-apocalyptic fiction; Kurt Vonnegut; ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy’; those who appreciate highbrow literature (‘Ulysses’) but who also enjoy a good fart joke (‘Finnegans Wake’); and those who want to feel assured that yes, it’s alright to feel paranoid.