- Author: Colson Whitehead
- Publisher: Anchor Books
- Published: July 2012
- ISBN-10: 0307455173
- ISBN-13: 9780307455178
- Format: Paperback
- Copyright: 2011
- Subject: FICTION-HORROR
Strand Staff Reviews
";Colson Whitehead is a New York writer in every sense. A born and raised Manhattanite, he’s watched the city evolve over a four-decade span of cultural and socioeconomic rollercoaster flux. Too, he has imparted with exuberance and artful facility the essence of New York’s boroughs into the majority of his work – from the hulking skyscrapers of 1999’s The Intuitionist to the Long Island beaches of 2009’s Sag Harbor.
Whitehead’s latest, a genre-bending force called Zone One, is matted by the blocks and avenues of Manhattan’s infamous financial district. The novel’s close-third main character, Mark Spitz, finds himself entrenched in street level cleanup of the Empire City after a massive, near-apocalyptic zombie invasion destroys life as was previously known.
Spitz’s mission is to find and destroy remaining infected folks whom are divided into two spheres of existence: the skels, formerly human creatures in league with the classic George A. Romero iteration of flesh-hungry fiends; and the incredibly sadder, uniquely Whiteheadian invention called stragglers – slow, stagnant zombies who return to places where they once experienced great emotional attachment and linger somberly, awaiting disintegration or else elimination by sweeper teams like Spitz’s. The latter provides for unsettling romps through the uncanny valley, especially in a striking moment where Mark Spitz considers the image of an undead wearing the same brand of underwear as an erstwhile girlfriend.
Zone One’s infrastructure is rich with intentional, linguistically gorgeous metaphors that conjure a wide range of popular themes, including the first world love-affair with gadgetry and significance of modern relationships. Its most powerful allusions, however, center on immovability of institutional wealth and power (even in such a drastically altered world) and Spitz’s interpersonal disconnect, a symptom of his utter mediocrity in a nation that has long prized celebrity and impressive human anomaly.
It is precisely because of his averageness, though, that Mark Spitz is able to last through the book’s present moment, where we find him excavating subway tunnels and offices packed with writhing gobs of the undead. Spitz’s solitary nature, which allows him to remain largely uninvested in the personal lives of fellow survivors, suggests an escapist implication on Whitehead’s part – a veiled opposition to the eternal on-switch that commands contemporary American existence.
In a market of literature flushed with post-apocalyptic narratives and wry, modernist commentary, Zone One stands as a shining hybridization of fused genre and cultural review."; --Emily S., Basement Floor Staff
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