OVAL

OVAL

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Published 10/2/21
by Elvia Wilk

 

Berlin is changing. Artists work as corporate consultants, the weather is increasingly erratic, and economic inequality is spiralling out of control. As tech conglomerates hoover up available real estate, the party is moving on.

Anja and Louis live in an eco-house on the city’s new artificial mountain: an experiment in green living powered by waste. But before long, the house starts to to go haywire.

At work, artist-consultant Louis has become obsessed with a secret project: a pill called Oval that rewires the user’s brain to increase generosity. While Anja is horrified, Louis believes he has found the solution to Berlin’s income gap.

Oval asks how we can relate to one another when every relationship – to our friends, to our bodies, and to bureaucracies – is leveraged in ways beyond our control. This is a novel about what the future might look like if it’s put up for sale.

Praise for Oval:

‘A fabulous biopunk hybrid that’s not quite like anything else I’ve ever read.’
— Ned Beauman

‘A fascinating near-future exploration of relationships, sustainability, and power.’
— Jeff VanderMeer

'Elvia Wilk’s Oval is a marvel. At the core of this seductive, acute, superbly contemporary update of midperiod J. G. Ballard lies a deep-beating, deep-dreaming heart.'
— Jonathan Lethem

'Wonderfully clever and beguiling. The circle may be absolute, but the oval remains restless and bursts with potential.'
— Chloe Aridjis

'With wit and precision, Elvia Wilk pinpoints the moment when neoliberalism metastasizes into something far more sinister.'
— Tom McCarthy

'Oval is a dystopia that reveals the fractures of the present.'
 — Rebecca O’Dwyer, Stinging Fly

The book feints toward an Ottessa Moshfegh–style ennui, the kind of tragic vision that disguises itself as satire. But Oval has a warm center in Anja, who is friendlier, more approachable, less alienating and alienated than the typical Moshfegh heroine... [Anja] is finely observed and solid, capable of both banter and feeling... When Wilk examines social behavior, her attention snags in all the right places... Like Oedipus or Othello, characters in Oval can neither alter their destiny nor anticipate its shape.'
— Katy Waldman, New Yorker