Author(s): Ling Ma
Candace Chen, a millennial drone self-sequestered in a Manhattan office tower, is devoted to routine: her work, watching movies with her boyfriend, avoiding thoughts of her recently deceased Chinese immigrant parents. So she barely notices when a plague of biblical proportions sweeps the world.
Candace joins a small group of survivors, led by the power-hungry Bob, on their way to the Facility, where, Bob promises, they will have everything they need to start society anew. But Candace is carrying a secret she knows Bob will exploit. Should she escape from her rescuers?
A send-up and takedown of the rituals, routines and missed opportunities of contemporary life,Severanceis a moving family story, a deadpan satire and a heartfelt tribute to the connections that drive us to do more than survive.
Ling Mawas born in Sanming, China and grew up in Utah, Nebraska and Kansas. She attended the University of Chicago and received an MFA from Cornell University. Prior to graduate school she worked as a journalist and editor. Her writing has appeared in Granta, Vice, Playboy, Chicago Reader, Ninth Letterand other publications. A chapter of Severancereceived the 2015 Graywolf SLS Prize. She lives in Chicago.
''It''s a novel that sneaks up on you from all sides: it''s an affecting portrayal of loss, a precise fictional evocation of group dynamics, and a sharp character study of its protagonist, Candace Chen. It also features one of the most hauntingly plausible end-of-the-world scenarios I''ve encountered in recent fiction...[T]his is a monumentally unnerving novel, one that leaves no easy answers or comfortable nooks in which to take refuge.'' Tor
''A hilariously searing critique of who we are and how we survive in a modern world...Ma''s caustic humor and incredibly smart commentary on late capitalism compares our adherence to routine and groupthink to a terminal infection. Her precise language, original voice, and use of all-too-relatable details inform the debut''s deadpan depiction of a society teetering on the edge.'' Shondaland
''It''s a stunning book. I devoured Severance in as close to a single sitting as possible...and it shook me on an emotional level that no other apocalyptic novel has reached.'' Chicago Review of Books
''In the end, Severanceisn''t so much a story about zombies as it is an imaginative critique of capitalism. Underneath Ma''s deadpan comedy lie shrewd observations of the West and the decadence of our everyday existence.'' Paris Review
''A clever and dextrous debut.'' Publishers Weekly
''Funny, frightening, and touching...Ling Ma manages the impressive trick of delivering a bildungsroman, a survival tale, and satire of late capitalist millennial angst in one book, and Severance announces its author as a supremely talented writer to watch.'' MillionsMost Anticipated
''This is a biting indictment of late-stage capitalism and a chilling vision of what comes after, but that doesn''t mean it''s a Marxist screed or a dry Hobbesian thought experiment...Ma also offers lovely meditations on memory and the immigrant experience. Smart, funny, humane, and superbly well-written.'' Kirkus Reviews, starred review
''Ma''s language does so much in this book, and its precision, its purposeful specificity, implicates an entire generation. But what is most remarkable is the gentleness with which Ma describes those working within the capital-S System. What does it mean if a person finds true comfort working as a "cog" in a system they disagree with? Is that comfort any less real?'' Buzzfeed, #1 Summer Read Pick
''Embracing the [apocalyptic fiction] genre but somehow transcending it, Ma creates a truly engrossing and believable anti-utopian world...[An] extraordinary debut.'' Booklist, American Library Association (starred review)
''Ma''s writing about the jargon of globalised capitalism has a mix of humour and pathos that reminded me a little of Infinite Jestand a little of George Saunders; it produced a sense of estrangement from my cosmetics, my clothes, and my iPhone. I finished it feeling sad and sensitive to the garbage all around us that comes at such a high cost to planetary and human welfare.'' New Yorker, What We''re Reading This Summer
''The novel''s strength lies in Ma''s accomplished handling of the walking dead conceit to reflect on what constitutes the good life. This is a clever and dextrous debut.'' Publishers Weekly
''A smart, searing exposé on the perils of consumerism, Google overload, and millennial malaise...An already established audience will be eager to discover this work.'' Library Journal