Zero K by Don DeLillo
Don DeLillo “prefers to work a particular set of seams”, said Sam Leith in the Literary Review: he’s interested in conceptual art, big money, television, death and time. His new novel “covers them all”. Jeffrey Lockhart, a “directionless man in his mid-30s”, is invited by his billionaire father to a “secure facility” in the former USSR. An underground bunker of “numberless levels”, it proves to be a “cryogenic freezing facility” where Lockhart’s stepmother (who is terminally ill) is due to be frozen. What follows is an “uneasy” novel that’s both “riddlingly opaque and weirdly over-explicit”.
This being DeLillo, there is, of course, a high “quotient” of beautiful sentences, said James Lasdun in The Guardian. But the scenes at the compound are “hard to like”; DeLillo fails to imbue this “glorified meat-safe” with consequence. By contrast, the scenes set back in New York are “refreshingly loose and low-key”, as they allow DeLillo to do what he does best, which is “capture contemporary reality”. Unfortunately, they are too brief; and we soon return, “heavy hearted”, to the “mausoleum”.