The End We Start From is the award-winning debut by Megan Hunter published in 2017 by Picador Books. Some time in the future, London is completely submerged by floodwaters forcing the protagonist and her family, including her newborn son, Z, to flee northwards in search of refuge.
The story-telling is imaginatively distinctive and seems to carry a flavour of poeticism. Hunter creates a story that is uniquely her own with sparse prose, unnamed characters and animal symbolism. I thought this latter use of symbolism was both prolific and thought-provoking. It was as though the reader was being reminded of their insignificance especially in the face of natural disasters which we can never tame nor overcome.
I no longer worry about crushing him in my sleep.
I sleep like a shark, swimming on through the night.”
The narrative is seasoned with interesting quotes that seem almost biblical. At times apocalyptic, at times prophetic, it purports the message that endings aren’t final but rather the heralds of new beginnings. The newborn Z who grows into this world of transition is almost like the embodiment of a generation Z so to speak, a new beginning that follows the end.
At first there was only the sea, only the sky.
From the sky came a rock, which dropped
deep into the sea. A thick slime covered the rock,
and from this slime words grew.”
The story is told through the eyes of the unnamed protagonist whose lack of emotion or expression is a bit disengaging. Nevertheless, we can empathize with her struggles moving from shelter to shelter and losing touch with her husband R.
Overall, I thought The End We Start From was distinctive, apocalyptic yet hopeful. A powerful symbol of new beginnings and continuity and written with unadulterated poetry. I prefer slow burners and this one was a bit too plosive for my taste but an easy read that can be done in one- sitting. I rate The End We Start From..
Days are thin now, stretched so much
that time pours through them.
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