Things We Didn't See Coming by Steven Amsterdam

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Synopsis

Michael Williams, in Melbourne’s The Age, wrote of this award-winning, dazzling debut collection, “By turns horrific and beautiful . . . Humanity at its most fractured and desolate . . . Often moving, frequently surprising, even blackly funny . . . Things We Didn’t See Coming is terrific.” This is just one of the many rave reviews that appeared on the Australian publication of these nine connected stories set in a not-too-distant dystopian future in a landscape at once utterly fantastic and disturbingly familiar.
 
Richly imagined, dark, and darkly comic, the stories follow the narrator over three decades as he tries to survive in a world that is becoming increasingly savage as cataclysmic events unfold one after another. In the first story, “What We Know Now”—set in the eve of the millennium, when the world as we know it is still recognizable—we meet the then-nine-year-old narrator fleeing the city with his parents, just ahead of a Y2K breakdown. The remaining stories capture the strange—sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes funny—circumstances he encounters in the no-longer-simple act of survival; trying to protect squatters against floods in a place where the rain never stops, being harassed (and possibly infected) by a man sick with a virulent flu, enduring a job interview with an unstable assessor who has access to all his thoughts, taking the gravely ill on adventure tours. But we see in each story that, despite the violence and brutality of his days, the narrator retains a hold on his essential humanity—and humor.

Things We Didn’t See Coming is haunting, restrained, and beautifully crafted—a stunning debut.


From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Steven Amsterdam

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STEVEN AMSTERDAM is the author of Things We Didn't See Coming, which was longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award and won The Age Book of the Year Award, among other honors. A native New Yorker and a nurse, he lives in Melbourne, Australia.
 
Published January 28, 2010 by Anchor. 210 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Science Fiction & Fantasy. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Things We Didn't See Coming

Publishers Weekly

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Given that its nine linked stories are set in a postapocalyptic near future, the pleasure of Amsterdam's debut collection is surprising. Over the course of the book, just about every possible

Nov 16 2009 | Read Full Review of Things We Didn't See Coming

Publishers Weekly

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Given that its nine linked stories are set in a postapocalyptic near future, the pleasure of Amsterdam's debut collection is surprising. Over the course of the book, just about every possible

Nov 16 2009 | Read Full Review of Things We Didn't See Coming

AV Club

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 A post-apocalyptic debut connection comes up with a plausible end of the world, but forgets to give it structure.

Feb 11 2010 | Read Full Review of Things We Didn't See Coming

Suite 101

A review of Steven Amsterdam's audacious first novel, Things We Didn't See Coming, with suggestions for further dystopian reading.

| Read Full Review of Things We Didn't See Coming

Metro

Book review: Things We Didn’t See Coming by Steven Amsterdam (Harvill Secker, £12.99).

Jul 28 2010 | Read Full Review of Things We Didn't See Coming

Reader Rating for Things We Didn't See Coming
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