December 8, 2015
Novelist Michel Faber throws the book—his—at British P.M. David Cameron
by Taylor Sperry
In “a satirical gesture, just to let off some impotent steam,” author Michel Faber has sent a gratis copy of his latest (and, he says, his final) novel, The Book of Strange New Things, to British Prime Minister David Cameron.
The Guardian‘s Alison Flood reports that Faber’s “donation” is a response to last week’s vote to carry out airstrikes in Syria: “I just felt so heartsick, despondent and exasperated that the human race, and particularly the benighted political arm of the human race has learned nothing in 10,000 years, 100,000 years, however long we’ve been waging wars,” Faber said.
His book, The Book of Strange New Things, is about a man sent on a religious mission to a neighboring galaxy, and his relationship with the wife he leaves behind; Faber’s initial plan, Flood writes, was for the novel to have “no humans in it at all, because he was so disgusted by the actions of humanity.”
Faber has long been an active and vocal critic of British (and American) war efforts: in 2006, he joined John Le Carré, Richard Dawkins, Brian Eno, Harold Pinter, and Haifa Zangana in contributing an essay, in his case “Dreams in the Dumpster, Language Down the Drain,” to Not One More Death, a book that “examines the record of US and UK troops in Iraq . . . and considers the responsibilities of artists, writers and the wider public in a time of war an occupation.”
“It’s all so adolescent male,” Faber said yesterday, “the idea that something goes wrong and you just find out who the bad guy is and take them out, you drop a bomb on them or you blow them up with a gun or something, and that’s it, sorted.”
Taylor Sperry is an editor at Melville House.