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Generation A

Douglas Coupland

Average Review Rating Average Rating 8/10 (1 Review)
Book Details

Publisher : William Heinemann Ltd

Published : 2009

Copyright : Douglas Coupland 2009

ISBN-10 : HB 0-434-01983-6
ISBN-13 : HB 978-0-434-01983-0

Publisher's Write-Up

In the near future bees are extinct - until five unconnected individuals, in different parts of the world, are stung. Immediately snatched up by ominous figures in hazmat suits, interrogated separately in neutral Idea-like chambers, and then released as 15-minute-celebrities into a world driven almost entirely by the internet, these five unforgettable people endure a barrage of unusual and highly 21st-century circumstances. A charismatic scientist with dubious motives eventually brings the quintet together, and their shared experience unites them in a way they could never have imagined.

Generation A mirrors the structure of 1991's Generation X as it champions the act of reading and storytelling as one of the few defenses we still have against the constant bombardment of the senses in a digital world. Like much of Coupland's writing, it occupies the perplexing hinterland between optimism about the future and everyday, apocalyptic paranoia, and is his most ambitious and entertaining novel to date.

'Fans of Coupland will rejoice: here is another bizarre, postmodern fable that takes the canon, mixes it up with life right now, wraps them both around a Coupland-shaped holes and turns the lot into a glittering, literary Mobius strip ... Coupland's audacious flights of fancy, his laugh-out-loud dialogue and his magnificent ability to bring it all back to storytelling and orange-flavour Tang, they're all here ... Such a treat.'

Independent on Sunday

'Eighteen years on from GENERATION X, Coupland still satirises pop culture better than anyone. This globe-spanning tale, set in the near future, is masterfully told and often hilarious.'


'One of the great satirists of modern disposable culture... Coupland's satirical take on technology and personal alienation has never been more relevant... GENERATION A is a comic attack on what one character calls "our modern fame-driven culture, with its real-time marinade of electronic information"... Classic Coupland... but you can detect a new seriousness in Coupland's writing... GENERATION A is Coupland's most hopeful novel yet. The "A" indicates that we are at the beginning of something new, ready to build fresh narratives from the consumer rubble.'

Sunday Telegraph
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Reader Reviews

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Review by Nigel (311209) Rating (8/10)

Review by Nigel
Rating 8/10
Generation A tells the story of five people, Harj, Zack, Samantha, Julien and Diana, located throughout the world with seemingly nothing in common when each of them is stung by a bee. Nothing unusual there, only this is the not too distant future and there hasn’t been a bee sighting for five years. No bees, no pollination, which has serious implications for the World’s food supply. So, as each of our protagonists is stung, significant forces swing into action to isolate them and investigate why they should have been singled out. What makes them, if anything, different from the rest of humanity?

Each of the five main characters has their own particular traits which allow the author to examine events from very different perspectives. Harj, from Sri Lanka, works hard in a call centre selling goods he himself can never own. Zack, from the USA, is a carefree anti-hero with some odd habits (Zack’s use of DEA satellite feeds and 10 acres of condemned grain is very funny), Samantha, from New Zealand, is an idealist looking for a purpose in life, Julien is a French student (in name only) living life online in World of Warcraft and Diana, from Canada, a bit of a religious nut slightly distanced from reality and suffering from Tourette's Syndrome which makes for some interesting dialogue.

As the story unfolds these five are drawn together in what is ostensibly research into the reason they were stung and the possibility it may lead to bees returning. While they question what is happening, with such a noble goal at stake they go along with events... but is everything as it seems?
What will get most people picking this book up, if not a Douglas Coupland fan, is the central premise of bees being extinct and the affect on mankind; however, this is not really what the book is about and in my mind the central question of why these five people where stung is not satisfactorily answered. While we are given the reasons and explanations it is more an afterthought to bring the book together to follow the rules of structure; the book is really about people and the society they live in.

Douglas Coupland has always been brilliant at social observation and Generation A is no exception. In summary this is an unusual but entertaining and well written book that will have any reader hooked from beginning to end, bees or no bees.
Nigel (31st December 2009)

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