What writer would not die happy to receive the review the NYT gave Darragh McKeon’s All That is Solid Melts into Air? (Written by Anthony Marra no less!) Review excerpts below capture the horror, beauty, poignancy of this novel about the lives of ordinary people who survived the Chernobyl disaster.
Complete review here.
“[F]irefighters who have never heard of radioactivity arrive to Chernobyl in shirt sleeves. They begin to vomit, but without ‘panicked crowds to confirm their private fears’ they push misgivings aside….
“The flight from the towns and countryside surrounding Chernobyl is the most harrowing description of displacement I’ve read since the Dunkirk evacuation in Ian McEwan’s Atonement. Pages of the strange, surreal and horrific pass with the authenticity of raw news footage. Only one box of iodine pills is available for a city of 60,000, and so the elderly pass around contaminated milk, believing it will fortify them against radiation….
“[I]t’s moments like these that make “All That Is Solid Melts Into Air” such a startling achievement. Even as McKeon cuts a wide swath, his scenes, characters and story lines build as the gradual accumulation of the particular…
“By investing objects and settings with a history of individual triumphs and disappointments, he wrings surprising emotional depth from the mundane. And by proving that stories too intimate to ever make their way into the history books are nonetheless worth telling, the novel makes a powerful argument that no one is unremarkable….
“McKeon’s characters may already have receded into history, but by imprinting their triumphs and tragedies onto the imagination with such visceral empathy, he has given them a deserving afterlife in this powerful novel.”
All That Is Solid Melts into Air (9780062246875) by Darragh McKeon. $14.99 trade paper original. 4/29/14 on sale.