A surreal and magical novel of hope in the midst of apocalypse by the acclaimed author of Gob’s Grief—“one of the most revelatory novels in recent memory” (San Francisco Chronicle).
Chris Adrian’s debut novel, Gob’s Grief, was hailed as “a work unlike any that has come before it” (The Economist). Now, Adrian delivers a second work of visionary imagination in this magnificent tale of a children’s hospital that survives, afloat, after the Earth is flooded beneath seven miles of water, and a young medical student who finds herself gifted with strange powers and a frightening destiny.
Jemma Claflin is a third-year medical student at the unnamed hospital that is the only thing to survive after an apocalyptic storm. Inside the hospital, beds are filled with children with the most rare and complicated diseases. In this new-age Noah’s Ark, there are two of each kind of sickness. As Jemma and her fellow doctors attempt to make sense of what has happened to the world, Jemma becomes a Moses figure, empowered with the mysterious ability to heal the sick by way of a green fire that shoots from her belly.
Chris Adrian, a pediatrician and Harvard theologian, offers a work of stunning scope and mesmerizing detail that is “cleverly conceived and executed brilliantly” (San Francisco Chronicle).
Medicine, magic, the biblical story of Noah and sociological ruminations about Americans in the throes of the apocalypse come together in physician Adrian's hip, wry and ambitious debut. When the world is submerged beneath seven miles of water, only those aboard the Children's Hospital, a working medical facility and ark built by architect turned prophet John Grampus (who was ordered by God "to save the kids") survive. Four chatty, digressive and at times grimly comic angels (the recorder, the preserver, the accuser and the destroyer) narrate this epic tale, which follows heart-sick medical student Jemma and the hospital's other unlikely inhabitants (such as the overly-cutely-named Dr. Snood and Ethel Puffer) as they attempt to ensure humanity's survival and live by virtue of the ship's "replicators," heaven-sent devices that can make "apples out of old shoes; shoes out of shit." Eventually, Jemma discovers her magical ability to heal the sick. As fragments of her tragic past come to light, so do clues about humanity's future, and, after 200 days at sea, what part Jemma will finally play in it. This dense and lengthy satirical-but-sincere novel may challenge readers' patience with its fairy-tale-like characters and its long-windedness, but Adrian's knack for surprise and his ability to find meaning in seemingly ridiculous situations is rewarding.