A New York Times Bestseller
Selected for the November 2011 Indie Next List
A 2011 Library Journal Best Book for Fiction
A 2011 Barnes & Noble Best Book for Fiction
In this wry take on the post-apocalyptic horror novel, a pandemic has devastated the planet. The plague has sorted humanity into two types: the uninfected and the infected, the living and the living dead.
Now the plague is receding, and Americans are busy rebuilding civilization under orders from the provisional government based in Buffalo. Their top mission: the resettlement of Manhattan. Armed forces have successfully reclaimed the island south of Canal Street—aka Zone One—but pockets of plague-ridden squatters remain. While the army has eliminated the most dangerous of the infected, teams of civilian volunteers are tasked with clearing out a more innocuous variety—the “malfunctioning” stragglers, who exist in a catatonic state, transfixed by their former lives.
Mark Spitz is a member of one of the civilian teams working in lower Manhattan. Alternating between flashbacks of Spitz’s desperate fight for survival during the worst of the outbreak and his present narrative, the novel unfolds over three surreal days, as it depicts the mundane mission of straggler removal, the rigors of Post-Apocalyptic Stress Disorder, and the impossible job of coming to grips with the fallen world.
And then things start to go wrong.
Both spine chilling and playfully cerebral, Zone One brilliantly subverts the genre’s conventions and deconstructs the zombie myth for the twenty-first century.
© 2011 by Colson Whitehead
“Zone One is not the work of a serious novelist slumming it with some genre-novel cash-in, but rather a lovely piece of writing…Whitehead picks at our nervousness about order’s thin grip, suggesting just how flimsy the societal walls are that make possible our hopes and dreams and overly complicated coffee orders.”
“Colson Whitehead’s Zone One isn’t your typical zombie novel; it trades fright-night fodder for empathy and chilling realism…yielding a haunting portrait of a lonely, desolate, and uncertain city.”
“A zombie story with brains…[Whitehead is a] certifiably hip writer who can spin gore into macabre poetry.”
“Uniquely affecting…A rich mix of wartime satire and darkly funny social commentary…Whether charged with bleak sadness or bone-dry humor, sentences worth savoring pile up faster than the body count.”
Los Angeles Times
“Whitehead writes with economy, texture and punch…A cool, thoughtful and, for all its ludic violence, strangely tender novel, a celebration of modernity and a pre-emptive wake for its demise.”
New York Times Book Review
“It’s a book you want to read rather than one you should read…while still providing the chilling, fleshy pleasures of zombies who lurch, pursue, hunger…One of the best books of the year.”
“Leave it to the supremely thoughtful and snarkily funny Whitehead to do interesting things with a topic that lately has seated itself in the public’s imagination…Not just a juicy experiment in genre fiction but a brilliantly disguised meditation on a ‘flatlined culture’ in need of its own rejuvenating psychic jolt.”
“If you’re going to break down and read a zombie novel, make it this one.”
Wall Street Journal
“For-real literary—gory, lyrical, human, precise.”
“A satirist so playful that you often don’t even feel his scalpel, Whitehead toys with the shards of contemporary culture with an infectious glee. Here he upends the tropes of the zombie story in the canyons of lower Manhattan. Horror has rarely been so unsettling, and never so grimly funny.”
“Highbrow novelist Colson Whitehead plunges into the unstoppable zombie genre in this subtle meditation on loss and love in a post-apocalyptic Manhattan, which has become the city that never dies.”
“A sharp commentary on the rat race of contemporary life…Zone One lifts all the gore and gunfire and oozy bits one might expect from the genre. But this is Whitehead, so there’s also popular culture to critique and parallels to draw between zombies and contemporary society.”
“Stylishly entertaining…[Whitehead’s] sentences are interesting, his plotting brisk, his descriptions lucid, and his asides clever.”
Cleveland Plain Dealer
“In precise, elegant prose [Whitehead] deliberately layers the ever more disturbing elements of the story, one upon the other, allowing the reader to discover the horror in the same fragmentary manner we imagine frantic survivors might…Resembles Cormac McCarthy’s The Road…An intense meditation on the way we cope with disaster and the stubborn, often inexplicable, persistence of the human will to survive.”
Minneapolis Star Tribune
“The zombie genre provides unlikely inspiration for the author’s creative renewal…The latest from a generation of literary novelists who are erasing the distinction between art and pulp.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
- Publisher: Penguin Random House
- ISBN-13: 978-0-307-94093-3