Once in a while you come across a book that grabs and enthralls you. The Society of Others by William Nicholson is one of those.
While I admit I haven’t yet figured out the ending, getting there is quite a ride. The novel is Kafkaesque, existential tale of the ordeals of a young unnamed Brit unexpectedly alone in an unnamed totalitarian society in eastern Europe. The book is not only a journey of self-awareness and self-discovery, it looks at those involved in and caught in the middle of the politics and political movements of terrorism and counter-terrorism.
The Society of Others may not be a classic. At times, it requires extreme suspension of belief (although one wonders if it is not, in part, satirical). Still, it’s strengths are far greater than its weaknesses, making it one of the best books I’ve read in months.
Protagonist: “If you win an argument, that proves you’re right.”Cello: “Not at all. It only proves you’re better at arguing.”
Protagonist: “So that’s good.”
Cello: “How is it good? It seems to me that it gets you no further than you were before. We might as well stand in the rain and piss at each other.”
William Nicholson, The Society of Others