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re­leased OUT NOW! 378 pages | Hard­back/ebook Au­thor Gavin Chait Pub­lisher dou­ble­day

The line be­tween “gen­eral lit­er­a­ture” and genre fic­tion is get­ting thin­ner every day, and the lat­est book to ex­plore this ter­ri­tory is Lament Of The Fallen, a book that’s unashamedly sci-fi but is also be­ing mar­keted as sim­i­lar to re­cent work by lit­er­ary au­thors like David Mitchell and Michel Faber.

It’s to de­but au­thor Gavin Chait’s credit that the book is of­ten strong enough to sup­port these com­par­isons. His story ex­plores a con­vinc­ingly re­alised fu­ture world, as a self-suf­fi­cient West African com­mu­nity is dis­rupted by the sud­den ar­rival of an aug­mented es­capee from an Amer­i­can or­bital prison. This es­capee’s quest to re­turn home forms the back­bone of the plot. Around this Chait has crafted lyri­cal prose and imag­i­na­tive world-build­ing.

For its first three-quar­ters, the book is grip­ping, pow­er­ful and fre­quently im­pres­sive – which makes it all the more frus­trat­ing that Chait doesn’t stick the land­ing, in­stead los­ing the del­i­cate fo­cus of the earlier chap­ters in favour of a broader per­spec­tive and some oddly bom­bas­tic ac­tion. Still, while the flaws are hard to ig­nore, this re­mains an am­bi­tious and in­tel­li­gent work that marks out Chait as a writer wor­thy of fur­ther at­ten­tion. Saxon Bul­lock

The book was worked on for over 30 years, with the first ver­sion writ­ten when Chait was just 12 years old.

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