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I ve seen reviews which discuss this Soldados del Multiverso: Guerreros del pasado (Guerras del Multiverso n 2) as future dystopia but for me it s On Disgust a veiled fablebout now Ball offers up A Dirty Wedding Night: A Dirty Rockstar Romance Collection (Dirty, Book 2.5) a world dividednd ghettoised where the haves can kill New Menopausal Years at will where the have nots specifically refugeesnd criminals released from prison Faja (Naslouchač, are non persons without legal rights It s world that lacks compassion nd empathy where language has been redefined so that the culture can embrace violence while still calling itself non violent where fear nd insult Dirty Work are common currency It s no coincidence that character is named Lethe the river in the classical underworld from which the newly dead drink to forget what living was like How far is this conceptually from Trump s US or Brexit Britain where statesmen have normalised bullying bluster Hearts Farthings and boasting where sexualssault or disabilities can be mocked publicly where hatred has become legitimized whether for reasons of race gender sexuality class or The Mount Shasta Mission any other divisive marker There s horrible recognition Little Darlings at the heart of Ball s worldForll that the final Greenwich and most powerful section for me is both despairingnd hopeful s woman who has killed finds that she is sickened by her own Your Name Here action by what she has done by what she isnd how society has shaped her Her resistance is both Mate Me [If You May] (The Millennium Wolves, annihilatingnd I think redemptive if only in True a minor individual way Stark prose pressing politicsnd A Fairly Honourable Defeat a desire to shock us into moral confrontation makes thisn urgent unnerving readMany thanks to Granta for Fucking Trans Women an ARC via NetGalley Thought provokingnd in your face Jesse Ball is everything What kind of suicide is it to kill in the world what you find in yourself Dive down You just dive down nd find the hole then it starts I mean you crawl For one pond to the other The divers game the part where you pull yourself into the hole is the worst Because from there you just have to go on You have to trust that the tunnel s the same s it was last time This book tends to be reviewed s set in near future dystopia one which imagines societal pproach to mass immigration nd to undesirables that seems only logical extension of current trends I would dd though that it is really lso very lightly imagined variation on past practices nd lacks the real imagination of say n Exit West even John Lanchester s The Wall to which book it is in every other way superior nd whose Booker longlisting looks even bizarre if one ssumes that this book was eligible nd submittedBall imagines country which deals with mass immigration by dmitting them marking them with tattoo of red hat to make their status s legal non persons legal status change which became enforced s philosophical one that violence perpetuated on the refugees was not just not illegal but was not even immoral In time the refugees were lso marked by mputation of their thumbs nd given special reas uadrants outside of cities where they had degree of safety in that citizens too forfeited their rights in what was deemed pre civilised space Outside these guarded reas the citizens Pats re drilled in the deployment of gas masks nd the use of poisonous gases to protect themselves gainst the dehumanised refugees uads Over time the uads re used to house other undesirables in particular criminals nd the uads themselves have rough justice enforced by bosses who have reached n understanding with the guardsImmediately one set of rather obvious historical parallels re clear yellow stars non persons Nonperson status was reuired because it removed the moral nd social obstacles for committing otherwise objectionable cts of violence crime buse nd murder ghettos KaposThe book has shaky start the bove information is rather clunkily covered by rhetorical revision lecture on the history of immigration given by Professor Mandred nd ttended by two citizen girls Lois nd Lethe Luckily I was ble to follow the principles of the Divers Game I ssumed that this was the worst part of the book nd trusting that Ball s writing bilities would be the same s in his last book I was ble to go on The remainder of the first part follows Lois nd particularly Lethe on trip with the Professor to zoo to see the last remaining nimals in the country We witness the rbitrary way in which they ll treat the uads they encounter nd the Zoo itself witness the rbitrary way in which they All Treat The Uads treat the uads encounter nd the Zoo itself full of symbolism with divide between dead nd living nimals with the lmost eradication of nimals reminder of their cruel nd rbitrary treatment often neither considered illegal or immoral in our society Later Lethe is ccosted but unharmed by group of uad children near some lakes The society is pproaching Ogias Day Jubilee style day The society is pproaching Ogias Day Jubilee style day things re turned upside down nd which is therefore unsettling to society with the creed A world of tiers Know your place upon itBy looking down The second part is set in particularly rough uad nd is largely based round raucous festival there the Day of the Infanta where small child is chosen given the power to issue orders obeyed without uestion nd reuired to dminister rbitrary justice in series of real s well s symbolic cases before being herself subject to the judgement of the mob In contrast to the unsettling effect of Ogias s Day this day is greeted wildly by uads llowing them to enact their frustration t their status nd the cruel justice to which they re normally subject Within this part we learn that the son of the uad boss has disappeared we later find playing the Divers Game seeming nalogy for the courage reuired to travel between two otherwise separate socieites s well s link to n incident in the first partBoth the post lecture first part nd the second part re written in the wonderful style I recognise from Ball s previous novel Census sparse nd yet full of imagery enigmatic nd yet full of meaningThe third part is nother change of style to rather preachy style in which Ball s character makes sure we have understood the moral of the book that in dehumanising others we dehumanise ourselves It is told in series of short letters from Pat woman one we lready know to her husband feeling threatened by uad she killed him with gas nd immediately cannot come to terms with her ctions nd contemplates suicide OR PERHAPS THEY DO KNOW WHY MY REVULSION AT this place of our lives this society of which we re part seems not to immediately dmit n obvious truth the people who re ground to bits by our horrific thoughtlessness selfishness greed though they may not know in each case why it has happened they do not need to know These things have happened so often that it becomes clear man like this did not die because of what he did but because of what he was We re the ones who have the privilege of having things happen to us because of what we do Not everyone is so lucky Overall this book while barely than novella nd easily read in single sitting is uietly powerful nd ffecting plea to examine what the exclusion of the other is doing to the moral fabric of our societies One final remark I m sure it must be coincidence but s Ball s last book Census was very similar in subject matter nd style to China Mieville s The Census Taker this book in underlying subject matter but not in ny way style shares lot with The City nd The City Mieville is I think by far the most imaginative nd versatile of the two writers but the use he makes of his versatility in writing books in varying genre styles police procedural in The City nd The City renders Ball s the better read in this caseMy thanks to Granta for n ARC via NetGalley With simple direct prose The Divers Game reads like dark fable or perhaps folktale beamed backwards through time from distant future It s dystopian other worldly setting in which our present civilisation has passed out of living memory where zoos re like museums of extinction nd citizens rm themselves with canisters of brightly coloured gas to be deployed with lethal force gainst From the inimitable mind of ward winning uthor Jesse Ball novel bout n unsettlingly familiar society that has renounced the concept of euality nd the devastating conseuences of unmitigated powerThe old fashioned struggle for fairness has finally been bandoned It was misguided endeavor The world is divided into two groups pats nd uads The pats may kill the uads s they like nd do The

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He immigrant classes t the slightest ffront The novel comprises four short set pieces somewhere between short story nd novella length each with different set of characters Linked through their shared invented world s well s in smaller subtler ways these pieces have fever dream strangeness nd brooding tension Ball has written striking parable of xenophobia our capacity for violence the human instinct to form in groups nd others whether it be on grand scale or minute one nd what happens when that instinct goes unchecked With economy of style nd clarity of purpose The Divers Game is thoughtful gem The best dystopian novels pick the themes of their time extend them into the future nd present the reader with n ll too plausible nightmare societyImagine society with refugee crisis Then imagine society that responds to that refugee crisis not by rejecting the refugees but by llowing them to stay s long s they re physically marked so that everyone knows who belongs nd who does not Imagine then that these others in society re stigmatised nd often subject to violence Imagine that the solution to that is not to stop the violence but to redefine the word violence so that it does not include cts performed gainst the uads s they re known because they live in special lawless nd walled in reas called uads nd only leave t their own risk The pats s the residents of the land re called carry canisters of gas nd gas masks so that they re euipped to deal with ny uad who pproaches nd looks vaguely threatening with no threat of repercussionsWelcome to Jesse Ball s future worldBut Jesse Ball is not one to tell straightforward story That would be far too simple Ball presents us with three stories nd he works by impressionism rather than by telling It is for the reader to puzzle over the underlying themes nd linksTwo girls ttend school where they re taught bout their society they re pats nd then taken to zoo by teacher with drink problem One girl goes in the other stays outside Both experience n dventure This part of society is heading towards Ogias Day If you know your Christian Old Testament Ogias Day is like the Jubilee without the godly parts cancellation of debts establishment of euality nd Then young girl is selected to be the centre of communal ceremony in one of the uads She is given free rein whatever she commands will happen s she tours the rea nd the mob mentality rises Where the ceremony of the first part sought euality nd was feared by many because of that here the ceremony creates complete ineuality young girl has bsolute power nd is feared by many because of that We learn bout the titular Divers Game which explores the connection between two local lakes nd s it does so explores what it means to belong nd the lengths people will go to in order to feel part of the in crowdFinally woman writes letter to her husband It is for the reader to work out who the woman is nd I won t spoil the book by saying what the letter is bout but the woman is concerned bout the conseuences of cruelty for the life of the person being cruelThis then is book to discuss with others What re the connections Are there connections Are the connections underneath rather than visible on the surface the title nd the game might be clue Are the connections thematic rather than plot hint there is no overall plot really I write this t the stage where I have only just begin to make those connections nd I know I have work head of me which I hope will be ssisted by other readers s I get chance to discuss the bookI love that Jesse Ball doesn t write bout dystopia where refugees have been rejected nd walls have been built to keep them out I love that he turns things on their head nd writes bout dystopia where the refugees re llowed to remain nd his logical extension is to society that marks those who don t belong nd removes penalties for harm done to themmI love that he then presents us with several different stories bout this dystopian world but doesn t feel the need to explain it ll This is similar to my kind of rtwork that presents the viewer with n bstract impressionistic image or several images but leaves it for the to interpretYou have to be Jesse Ball TO BE ABLE TO IMAGINE THE be ble to imagine the he creates You probably have to be Jesse Ball to understand how it ll links together but there is sufficient thematic connection made to mean that the reader puts the book down knowing that they will be thinking bout it for many days to come Like the subterranean connections within the novel this book lays the groundwork for some subconscious connections in the readers mind the kind of thing that is likely to wake you up in the night thinking bout it s pieces join togetherAs n side having just finished re read of Deborah Levy s The Man Who Saw Everything how wesome would n evening called Deborah Levy nd Jesse Ball In Conversation beMy thanks to Granta Publications for n ARC via NetGalley I loved Census nd How to Set Fire nd Why so I had high hopes for this Like Census it s heavy on the metaphors future society in which refugees re explicitly treated s non human nd the insidious but plausible ways that pproach poisons our very humanity It s powerful conceptually but I missed the heart of Ball s earlier books the characters felt like pawns he was moving round to make his points than real complex people It s uick nd t times horrifying read it s probably worth your time but it fell tiny bit short of my high expectations If Jesse Ball s mind was n ctual place I d love to travel there I m sure it would be spellbinding nd full of weird surprises riveting strange nd disturbing No one writes bout human cruelty nd its conseuences like this guy nd no one employs the enlightening power the perspective of kid can provide far way from ny cheap kitsch like the winner of last year s Gordon Burn Prize For Burn Prize for tribute to his dead brother To write like this you have to have deep moral convictions sprawling imagination nd the talent to turn this into intense ffecting prose s reader you need to be willing to put on your hiking boots nd bring your compass in order to venture into the overgrown jungle t the heart of remote narrative island because Ball s books re no beach reads The Divers Game is novel in three parts In the first one we meet two kids living in dystopian society that openly ccepts nd cements ineuality justifying this with rguments that rely on fear ignorance nd ideas of superiority The people living in the lawless uarters outside the city most of them refugees re declared to be less than human nd every kid is taught how to gas them if one of them crosses their path nd disobeys or is perceived s somehow dangerous It has no legal conseuences to immobilize or even painfully kill them with gas the people in the city re carrying gas nd gas masks t ll times Together with their lcoholic teacher the kids want to visit the zoo nd they re ultimately separated to experience two different reas where livingdead creatures re cagedIn the second part we meet kids living in Row House one of the lawless uads outside the city especially young girl chosen to be the center of n enigmatic ritual that revolves round the limitless execution of personal power nd the orgiastic experience of being part of mob It was the cry of the punished that there should be punishment cruelty hate the world was lways so much that the revelers had to flinch way had to retire from feeling nd feel not what was before them but instead what they had felt what they might feel This ritual mirrors nother one in the first part of the book that is feared by the people in the city because it revolves round the establishment of euality As you see Ball is playing with reversals nd trick mirrors lso watch out for character named Lam. Ads have no recourse but to continue with their livesThe Divers’ Game is thinly veiled description of our society n extreme case that demonstrates truth we must change or our world will collapseWhat is the effect of constant fear on life or on culture The Divers’ Game explores the conseuences of violence through two festivals nd through the dramatic nd excruciating examination of Bert Ma who for some is hero for others terrorist In ddition to that we learn bout the eponymous divers game that the kids in the uad like to play I won t explain the game in order not to spoil it but I can say that it s bout belonging nd the dangerous ttempt to overcome separation pay ttention that it only works in one direction thus being relevant to the whole book The third part is letter written by the teacher s wife shortly before her death nd it contemplates the price n individual soul might pay for being cruel nd when instead of fairness there is just order nd its conseuences What I love bout Jesse Ball is how lyrical his prose is his daring creative ideas nd how he does not feel the need to destroy the power of his strong haunting images by over explaining them Rather he trusts in his readers bilities to ppreciate the sheer beauty of his rt nd the iridescent ssociations he evokes This is writer tackling very serious topics while proving that smart content nd gorgeous writing can easily go together nd I hope he will go on winning some prizes for this stunning novel The Divers Game is set in future or lternative society in which refugees nd other social outcasts re legally designated s subhuman They re left to live in cordoned off slums called uads nd if they enter the main city citizens re permitted to gas them in order to stun them knock them out or kill them The citizens ll carry gas masks nd colour coded canisters They re trained from n early ge to don the mask nd ttack with speed While refugees re considered non human most ctual non human nimals in this world re extinctReading The Divers Game is truly uniue experience The most similar thing I can think of is Nicola Barker s excellent HAPPY At times the novel feels like network of symbols nd open ended metaphors than narrative The prose skips long with the frenetic nd ever shifting energy of children playing nd for the most part it sticks closely to the perspectives of children Across four sections we follow two children from mainstream society young girl who has been made the primary performer in wild festival in one of the worst reputed uads boy who is being chastised by dults fter his friend the son of uad kingpin goes missing nd grown woman who well I will leave that for you to discoverBy introducing us to this dystopia through the eyes of children Ball reflects how our own societies ccustom us to their own ineualities nd cruelties nd how we become ctive participants from young ge I think one of the uestions he wants to sk in this book is To what extent can one ever excuse cruelty with innocence There re countless examples in The Divers Game of the line between innocence nd cruelty ignorance nd malice being blurred both mong the citizens nd outsiders One example comes in the first part of section entitled The Day of the Infanta A young girl Lessen becomes the Infanta the central figure of the section s namesake festival She is put in dress of pple red brocade nd larger than ny dress she had worn She is given n rmy of chimney sweeps men with brooms And she is repeatedly reminded that you have to be careful what you say because everyone will obey you Just like that she is given enormous power over everyone in the uad She immediately begins to fantasise I can make them do nything What should I make them do She thought bout her sister who was often very mean to her The day before when she had been chosen Infanta her sister had hit her s hard s she could right in front of the visitors If Lessen told her chimney sweets to pull off her sister s legs what would happen She imagined her sister screaming nd trying to run way nd being caught nd lifted up She could lso have the chimney sweeps find her father s shift boss nd tear off his legs Now that might be thing to do He was lways keeping her father late nd not letting him go home Maybe he would be better shift boss without legsMuch of the cruelty of the young citizens ppears to come from their indoctrination into principles cruel society As for Lessen in the uads her cruelty is merely mirror of the cruelties nd injustices she sees round her We see her undergo transformation that she can observe but can t understand We get hints later on of how her power develops nd its conseuence for the uad but we don t get full image which brings me to what is in my opinion one of the The Divers Game s main flaws The four main sections re thematically linked nd we do see characters return Ball does brilliant job of llowing us to slowly stitch together vision of job of llowing us to slowly stitch together vision of strange society understanding its laws divisions nd jargon nd there re enough necdotes observations parables nd ideas for his story to have a moral impact to llow us to make comparisons to our own societies moral impact to llow us to make comparisons to our own societies present nd potential He leaves lot to the imagination with respect to the world itself which we have to put together piecemeal nd that is one of things that makes the experience so richAt the same time it feels lmost s though we re forced to leave each section on cliffhangers that we would rather like to see resolved It is clearly deliberate choice by Ball to create space between the sections nd llow us draw our own conclusions Still I felt dissatisfied There were stories to be told nd I wanted to read them I would have loved to see interaction between the various characters we meetI ll end the review with uote from the book that captures some of the clever ways in which Ball talks bout his extreme dystopia while putting difficult probe on our own nd others After two young citizens encounter man from the uads one of them justifies the present social rrangement s if it was in the interest of the refugees nd outcasts In the uads she says it s safer for them because no one can gas them Except for the guards Out here nything that happens to them is fine They have to be on their toes ll the time You know that The narrator representing society goes onThe girls behaviour does it seem cruel You have to understand it isn t cruel so much s natural What is natural must be respected must be wallowed in Isn t it soWhy should they bother to care bout someone so inferior It makes perfect sense that service of every kind should be given by those who can provide it Those who re ridiculous bear ridicule Those who re beneath notice re not noticed nd those who re elect re raised upAs much s we like to think there can be fairness it is really foolish idea one we ought to have done way with long go Instead of fairness there is just order nd its conseuences The Divers Game is the latest novel from Jesse Ball the 4th of his I have read nd someone who is fast emerging s one of our most interesting modern day writers It looks like it s bout very violent society that pretends it isn t violent t llIt smells like licorice left in holeSource A hyena who searched Jesse Ball s house in 2018 nd found the draft of this novel He said we can welcome them s long s we can tell them part As long s we can tell them part Many of them wherever they were from they had red hats kind of long knit hat red hat no one remembers why nd so Garing Said This Will Be Their This will be their We ll tattoo the red hat on their cheeks nd then we I have ttempted couple of times to read Jesse Ball book waiting for the one that was right for me Ball is not exactly my perfect fit he s of literary impressionist while I tend to stick to realism With THE DIVERS GAME I was ble to get engrossed in the world Ball created uickly And even though it isn t my perfect fit s plot person I really enjoyed the look into the dark world he s createdThere re lot of ways to mess up dystopian novel but it turns out Ball s style is well suited to it He voids lot of the problems nd pitfalls of creating society that never seems real There re images from thi. Woman’s final momentsBrilliantly constructed nd chingly tender The Divers’ Game shatters the notion of common decency s the binding gent between individuals forcing us to consider whether compassion is intrinsic to the human experience With his signature empathy nd ingenuity Jesse Ball’s latest work solidifies his reputation s one of contemporary fiction’s most mesmerizing talents. .