Reality and Other Stories (Hardcover)
Little bites of speculative fiction are such a treat, and this batch from John Lanchester mixes some interesting ideas. In one story, an unimaginative academic finds himself the victim of a digital vampire. In another, reality show contestants spend their days calculating every move and gesture for an audience that may not actually exist. It's a good blend of typical horror and digital disconnect--there's often a faint sense of satire to the stories, which makes them that much more unnerving, as if there's a punch line that never quite comes. A quick read and a good one.
-Caitlin— From 2021 Staff Favorites
A Kirkus Reviews Best Short Fiction of 2021 Selection
Ghost stories for the digital age by the Booker Prize–longlisted author of The Wall.
In 2017, inspired in part by Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw, the acclaimed English novelist John Lanchester published a ghost story in The New Yorker. "Signal," an eerie story of contemporary life and the perils of technology, was a sensation among readers—and since then Lanchester has written several more.
Reality and Other Stories gathers the best of these, taking readers to an uncanny world familiar to fans of The Twilight Zone or Black Mirror. Household gizmos with a mind of their own. Mysterious cell-phone calls from unknown numbers. Reality TV shows and the creeping suspicion that none of this is real…
Reality and Other Stories is a book of disquiet that captures the severe disconnection and distraction of our time.
About the Author
John Lanchester is the author of five novels, including The Debt to Pleasure and Capital. His books have been translated into more than twenty-five languages, and he is a regular contributor to The New Yorker and the New York Review of Books. He lives in London.
A smart book, scary as hell, and also a whole lot of fun…[Reality and Other Stories is] as endlessly entertaining as it is legitimately frightening.
— Michael Schaub, NPR.org
Ingenious…[Lanchester's stories] send a shiver down the spine.
— Sam Sacks, Wall Street Journal
John Lanchester's collection of tech-y ghost stories seems especially appealing right now...The eight tales in Lanchester's Reality and Other Stories are meant to entertain, to take you out of yourself for a space—and that they deftly do.
— Maureen Corrigan, NPR's Fresh Air
This intriguing debut collection grapples with technology and its illusion of convenience, choice and escape. Lanchester, a British novelist and journalist, has a sharp eye for social class and setting in his ghost stories for the digital age.
— Vanessa Hua, New York Times Book Review
Brisk, vinegar-sharp satires that horrify and amuse in equal measure.
A mind-bending collection about the multifaceted scariness of the way we live now.
— Times Literary Supplement (UK)
Very clever, very modern 'entertainments.'
— Financial Times (UK)
Across these immensely enjoyable and varied tales, Lanchester embraces the camp silliness of the gothic sensibility, while also making astute observations about our ever-developing digital reality.