Book Review – Satin Island


by Tom
McCarthy (Jonathan Cape) ISBN: 9780224099349 

After C in 2010, Satin Island is the second Tom McCarthy
novel to be shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. His work is often referred to
as ‘avant garde’ which made me curious to read it. 

U. is an anthropologist who
advises organisations how to narrate meaning around their service offering. In
addition to working on one of his firm’s main projects, his boss has tasked him
with creating The Great Report, ‘the First and Last Word on our age’. U. is
flattered to be working on it but he’s also overwhelmed by its enormity. This
leads him to procrastinate. He just creates folders filled with news and
articles on such diverse topics as oil spills, buffering and crashing
parachutists and philosophises on how these, and all other topics of our time,
are connected. 

The novel seems to lack a clear plot and character development, but I
was fascinated by U.’s research and his thoughts about it.  At times
McCarthy writing has such a tangible quality that I could imagine a physical
work of art based on U.’s ideas. I wasn’t surprised when I later read that
McCarthy is also a visual artist. 

Josine Overdevest
www.writerswrite.co.za
4/5

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