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Zed: Book summary and reviews of Zed by Joanna Kavenna

Zed

by Joanna Kavenna

Zed by Joanna Kavenna X
Zed by Joanna Kavenna
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Book Summary

From the winner of the Orange Award for New Writing comes a blistering, satirical novel about life under a global media and tech corporation that knows exactly what we think, what we want, and what we do - before we do.

One corporation has made a perfect world based on a perfect algorithm ... now what to do with all these messy people?

 Lionel Bigman is dead. Murdered by a robot. Guy Matthias, the philandering founder and CEO of the mega-corporation Beetle, insists it was human error. But was it? Either the predictive algorithms of Beetle's supposedly omniscient 'lifechain' don't work, or, they've been hacked. Both scenarios are impossible to imagine and signal the end of Beetle's technotopia and life as we know it.

Dazzlingly original and darkly comic, Zed asks profound questions about who we are, what we owe to one another, and what makes us human. It describes our moment—the ugliness and the beauty—perfectly. Kavenna is a prophet who has seen deeply into the present—and thrown back her head and laughed.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Kavenna is a diligent scholar of her form, melding a massively complex plot à la Thomas Pynchon and the wicked social satire of Evelyn Waugh with a healthy dose of Gogol's absurdist dysphoria thrown in for good measure. Complex, funny, prescient, difficult: Kavenna's novel tackles nothing less than everything as it blurs the lines between real and virtual." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Kavenna delivers this gripping narrative with wit and dark humor, leaving readers both entertained and a little paranoid." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Joanna Kavenna is a brilliantly unpredictable novelist: whatever you think she might do next, she doesn't. In terms of its stylistic innovations, Zed is a tour de force...a novel that takes our strange, hall-of-mirrors times very seriously indeed. It is a work of delirious genius." - The Guardian (UK)

"Zed sweats with wit and vitality, and reads like the work of a writer relishing her task. It also transcends its moment. For beyond its commentary on our present age—its technologies and pathologies—it can be interpreted as a cautionary tale about the havoc wrought on us by those who cannot accept that we will never be immortal, omniscient or transparent (to each other and ourselves)." - The Times Literary Supplement (UK)

"A brainy, bustling novel, Zed is hugely enjoyable...What's great about it is that Kavenna uses her scenario not only for horror, but laughter, too, as a send-up of corporate hubris and government heedlessness." - The Observer (UK)

"Zed is brilliant dystopian insanity on a grand scale, describing a world of corporate pretenders, broken software, and algorithms that never quite work as well as they're supposed to. Hilarious, incisive, and painfully relevant." - Max Barry, author of Lexicon

This information about Zed was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Joanna Kavenna

Joanna Kavenna grew up in Britain, and has also lived in the US, France, Germany, Scandinavia, and the Baltic states. She is the author of several critically acclaimed works of fiction and nonfiction. Her novel Inglorious won the Orange Award for New Writing, and her novel The Birth of Love was longlisted for the Orange Prize. Joanna Kavenna's writing has appeared in the New Yorker, London Review of Books, The Spectator and many others. She was named as one of the Telegraph's 20 "Writers under 40" in 2010, and one of Granta's Best of Young British Novelists in 2013.

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