“Like Don DeLillo’s Underworld, Simon Ings’s remarkable new work delivers nothing less than a secret key, a counter-history, of the last sixty years.”—Mark Costello, author of Big If
The Weight of Numbers describes the metamorphosis of three people: Anthony Burden, a mathematical genius destroyed by the beauty of numbers; Saul Cogan, transformed from prankster idealist to trafficker in the poor and dispossessed; and Stacey Chavez, ex-teenage celebrity and mediocre performance artist, hungry for fame and starved of love. All are haunted by Nick Jinks, a malevolent curse of a man who seems to be everywhere at once. As a grid of connections emerge between a dusty philosophical society in London and an African revolution, between international container shipping and celebrity-hosted exposés on the problems of the Third World—this novel sends the specters of the Baby Boom’s liberal revolutions floating into the unreal estate of globalization and media overload—with a deadly payoff.
The Weight of Numbers is an artful and deadly novel that traces the secret histories and paranoid fantasies of our culture into a future globalized in ways both liberating and hideous, full of information and empty of meaning. Simon Ings has delivered a storytelling tour de force that will alter some of your most cherished beliefs.
“[A] Pynchon-on-speed romp . . . Ings’s mad, mad world is held together to the very last page by humor, vivid depictions and a deeply compelling emotional core.”—Publishers Weekly
“A Scheherazade of a novel, executed with scope, daring, and humor. The Weight of Numbers is unerringly well written, and engrossing to the last page.”—Lionel Shriver, bestselling author of We Need to Talk About Kevin
Math whiz Anthony Burden has anonymous alley sex at the height of the London blitz, which produces Saul Cogan, an eventual jaded-idealist-turned-human-trafficker. The botched childhood abduction of Stacey Chavez eventually an epileptic, anorexic supermodel obliquely links the three, as does a gift encyclopedia set rigged with a bomb to assassinate a Mozambique revolutionary. That much one is able to confirm in Ings's deceptively readable, dizzyingly constructed novel: the sentences are conventional, but the things they describe are not, and abrupt shifts in time and setting (Paris; London; Mozambique; Cape Canaveral, Fla.; etc.) are even more jarring. Through it all, Anthony struggles with madness, marriage and sexual identity; Stacey battles illness and sudden stardom; and Saul drifts through the world as "a ghost in the globalized machine." Ings, a London-based science fiction novelist, offers further clues to their common story in the form of adventurer Nick Jinks, who haunts the three like Zelig. This Pynchon-on-speed romp relies heavily on coincidence and trivia Anthony and Stacey seem to be crushed by the weight of history, self-destruction and destiny, while antiheroes Nick and Saul skirt history's edges yet Ings's mad, mad world is held together to the very last page by humor, vivid depictions and a deeply compelling emotional core.