New in Paperback: The Country of Ice Cream Star – Sandra Newman

I read an interesting article in Wired earlier this month in which David Mitchell talks about the false dichotomy between genre and literary fiction. In part, he observes:

Such stark divisions harm everyone. Literary writers find their creativity hemmed in on all sides by close-minded attitudes about what a novel should be, and fantasy and science fiction writers find their work dismissed out of hand by large numbers of readers and critics. But the biggest losers are readers themselves….

He’s also frustrated that book snobs will insist that fantasy and science fiction can’t be great literature, while simultaneously acknowledging that many stories about magic or the future definitely are.

‘There’s no intellectual consistency in these arguments,’ he says, ‘so let’s consign them to the bowels of the Earth where they belong.’”
— David Mitchell, Wired, 11.17.15

This article brought to mind one of my favorite reads of 2015, now in paperback….

This epic uses a genre plot structure that’s been hugely popular in YA novels for some time now. Dystopian scenario – check. Kickass young heroine – check. Two hot, adoring guys in tow – check. Battle of good and evil – check.

When I start talking about this book in terms of plot, I frequently get push back from literary fiction fans who find the idea hackneyed. So I learned to quit talking about plot. This story’s in the telling—Newman invents a completely original patois in an America only 80 years in the future. That language is so original that it invites an entirely new way of looking at the world and leads to a singularly eye-opening read.

“What an astonishing achievement… I can’t remember when I last read something so original or sophisticated or emotionally engaging or so breathtakingly ambitious.”
— Kate Atkinson, author of Life after Life

The Country of Ice Cream Star is in many ways a classic story, craftily refold and made contemporary…[It] builds towards a powerful, horrifying, and beautifully-written climax, one that’s epic in scope but also feels intensely personal.”
— New York Times Book Review

“The voice Newman has created is bold and lyrical and, better still, complete – belonging to her pulp universe alone. And it doesn’t suck (which is amazing), doesn’t read weird or false (which is rare), and doesn’t trip those alarms that signal artifice over art or verbal buffoonery over the natural sway and slide of the language as it grows. I have almost never seen an equal to the beauty she finds in words here – the droog’s Nadsat of A Clockwork Orange, maybe. But honest to Burgess, I hear more Shakespeare in Ice Cream’s cadence than I do anything else. There’s a flow to it that I found soothing and dangerous, both – like slipping into a warm bath full of sharks.”

The Country of Ice Cream Star (9780062227119) by Sandra Newman. $16.99 trade paper. 11/24/15 on sale.

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