Love and Other Thought Experiments: Longlisted for the Booker Prize 2020

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Love and Other Thought Experiments: Longlisted for the Booker Prize 2020

Love and Other Thought Experiments: Longlisted for the Booker Prize 2020

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One night she wakes up with an ant in her eye and suddenly the universe as she/we know it unravels before our (ahem) ant riddled eyes. I was particularly taken by a chapter narrated by the ant (yes, really) as it explores Rachel’s brain. This description probably doesn't convey what an enjoyable experience reading the book is - the science and philosophy never distracts too much from the human stories.

To tell too much would be unwise; going in without any background to this novel gave me the best reading experience and left me emotionally touched when reaching the end of Love and Other Thought Experiments. It all felt very empty and mathematical to me, and while I appreciated the way it all fell into place from a tactical perspective, the fact that the plot does revolve around this circle of love makes the emotional distance a real detriment to overall enjoyment. Because the surprises were one of the biggest draws for me, I don’t want to say much more about the plot, but rest assured that the opening story about the ant, while indeed central, is fairly short and comprises only one small chapter of this larger interlinking creation. Each chapter is preceded by an explanation of a short thought experiment that informs the contents of that character's story. She is convinced that this was not just a dream — that there is literally an ant inside of her skull.If you are like me and enjoy subtle, sensitive literary fiction AND philosophical thought experiments as entertainment (along the lines of say, Ted Chiang's short stories) AND these two things combined in one novel sounds appealing, this book is for you.

Rachel, Eliza, Arthur, Greg, Hal, Ali and Zeus are all weaving their ways through a web constructed from repetitions and impossibilities, and it is only through understanding this web that do we, as readers, recognize the new and visionary in the timeline of the story.If you are an avid reader who enjoys puzzling over experimental (but accessible) fiction - and you are not put off by existential philosophy - this one is definitely worth a look. Based on the chapters that inter-link, the link between them is not clear at first and requires a bit of faith.

She has a degree in Philosophy and Literature and her PhD at Goldsmiths focused on the use of narrative in philosophy of mind. We have multiple times, but also multiple timelines, multiple realities, even multiple versions of the “same” person. Sophie Ward goes into daring and bold territories, including two non-human narrators and suggestions of alternate realities. It all makes a kind of sense at the end, but along the way you might find yourself wondering what is happening.I won't give this 5 stars because I am not clever enough to fully understand the philosophical musings at the start of each chapter and whilst I enjoyed to a point, trying to understand their significance I was ultimately slightly frustrated by that.

Each is at least partially an illustration of a philosophical thought experiment which is introduced first, and although there are connections and an overall narrative of sorts, there are numerous inconsistencies and alternative pathways - the reasons for that become clearer towards the end. Each chapter works as a story, immersive and compelling, and then the wider structure takes over, the harmonics sound out, and it accumulates into a universe of its own. One night in bed, Rachel thinks that an ant crawls into her eye and after the birth of Arthur she is diagnosed with a brain tumour.The way the philosophical thought experiments, mentioned at the start of all chapters, impressively come back loosely in the tales also add to the experience in my view. Each chapter starts off with a thought experiment or philosophical tidbit, and I presume the chapter is supposed to reflect it in some way. YA’s tendency toward coming-of-age narratives can work really well for stories of self-discovery, but there are absolutely limits to that, and very little adult reflection at all. I was interested in Sophie Ward’s citing A Visit from the Goon Squad and Elizabeth Strout Olive Kitteridge as influences on her book’s individual story structure. Also, honestly, I don't think I can adequately describe the playful, intelligent, mind-bending journey Ward has created here.



  • Fruugo ID: 258392218-563234582
  • EAN: 764486781913
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