Wall, The

by Marlen Haushofer (1962)

8/10

The Wall is a beautiful, meditative, haunting speculative fiction novel that is really more of a thought experiment on what it might truly feel like to be the last person on Earth. Its meandering, mostly plotless contemplation gives it more in common with Thoreau or A Sand County Almanac than other science fiction books.

You probably have to be in a certain mood to truly enjoy this one — maybe one of nihilism, or a heavy existentialist crisis — so I guess I’m saying a lot about myself by revealing that I quite liked it. The prose itself is steady and straightforward, and the story unique in that it doesn’t follow typical narrative tropes such as foreshadowing or linear chronology. You know from nearly the beginning how everything’s going to turn out, but you’re still interested enough to accompany the protagonist for awhile. I will be seeking out more of Haushofer’s works.

I did long for more closure in the end, especially for her to dig under the wall. But I’m also kind of glad she didn’t, because it adds authenticity to the work: she still had animals to care for after all. Overall I’d recommend this to anyone who likes the aforementioned works, or anyone who is feeling particularly contemplative lately.  I’ll be seeking out more of Haushofer’s works.

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