Michel Faber makes Arthur C. Clarke Award Shortlist

Michel Faber’s novel, “The Book of Strange New Things,” is one of six books shortlisted for the Arthur C. Clarke Award for best science fiction novel published in 2014. All six of the finalists are first-time Clarke Award nominees. The winner will be announced May 6th.

“The Book of Strange New Things” is the story of Peter, a Christian minister who undertakes a mission that takes him to a distant planet. There, he introduces the word of God to a native population eager to find out more about the Bible, which they refer to as “the book of strange new things.” Meanwhile, as Peter learns in letters from his wife, Bea, things back on Earth are going downhill fast. Natural disasters are damaging entire nations and governments are crumbling and, as a result, Bea is starting to lose her faith.

As Faber told Steve Paulson, “My wife, Eva, got diagnosed with an incurable cancer, multiple myeloma, cancer of the bone marrow. And that is a universally fatal cancer. And we knew that she didn’t have long to live. She did actually live six years, which was not bad given that a lot of people die within three months.”

Faber told Paulson that writing the novel while Eva was suffering from cancer was a very stressful time. Eva implored Faber to stick with it and made him promise to write six lines a day. For a long time, he wrote only six lines a day; however, he was able to build some momentum and finish it while Eva was still alive.

“She helped me with it,” Faber said. “She was always my first reader and, in some ways, best editor. When I conceived the book, of course, I had no idea that it would end up being a kind of elegy for Eva.”

Faber told Paulson that he always knew “The Book of Strange New Things” would be about loss but he didn’t know how prophetic it would be. “I didn’t know that that enormous distance that is between Peter and Eva, the characters in the book, that that would be echoed metaphorically in the distance that is between a healthy person and his loved one who is living on Planet Cancer.”

At the time of their conversation, Faber told Paulson that it would be his last novel. We hope that he changes his mind.

Image: Steve Jurvetson via: flickr

The Book of Strange New Things - Michel Faber

Michel Faber talks with Steve Paulson about his novel, "The Book of Strange New Things."

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