Dystopias and post-apocalyptic stories almost always fascinate me. Liz Jensen’s Ark Baby is set in a near-future (at the time of writing) Britain after the Fertility Crisis, in which no one is getting pregnant on that island anymore. That story is juxtaposed with another cast of characters in the nineteenth century whose lives have effects on the people in the modern-day story. One thing I love about this book is how very funny it is. Humour is hard to do well (or maybe I’m just picky), but Jensen sustains it all the way through. She weaves together so many threads: taxidermy and preachers and evolution and twins and Darwin and genetics and fossils-as-divine-jokes, crises of faith, a circus ballerina contortionist and a puppy, a foundling and a master chef, loyalty and vegetarianism and a veterinarian and polygamy, a persistent psychic ghost… And underlying it all, a thorough groundedness in the land and the sea, with gorgeously bleak imagery and attention to detail.
I liked it. I’m keeping it to read again someday.
Ark Baby by Liz Jensen. 1998. ISBN: 978-0-7475-3976-6