by Ling Ma
Publisher : Farrar, Straus and Giroux
2018, Paperback, 291 pages
Reviewed by Melanie Bush
If you want to live through a really bad global pandemic, like really bad, like where you are possibly the only survivor… Severance, by Ling Ma, written while she was an MFA student at Cornell, follows the plague-era adventures of Candace, a twentysomething Senior Product Coordinator of the Bibles Division for a company specializing in cut-rate books manufactured in China. When Shen Fever decimates the world’s population, emptying suburbs, malls, and the Manhattan skyscraper where Candace is the sole employee left alive, she join a band of urban survivors as they flee the collapsing city and try to outrun the virus. “We didn’t know how to do anything so we Googled everything…We Googled how to shoot a gun […] 7stages grief […] is there a god? Google would not last long.” Hilarious, dry-eyed, spectacularly imaginative, and, ah, creepily prescient, Severance takes you places you maybe never wanted to go but kind of have to go now. The “cause” of the virus will knock your socks off.
Melanie Bush would rather be out exploring our planet, but since she can’t right now she reads books.