One of my favorite books from last year was Leech Girl Lives, by Rick Claypool. It’s a wonderfully satirical and decidedly leftist novel about a safety inspector in the far-future who gets exiled from her bubble-city after being framed in a plot to create an unsafe environment. While in the wilderness, two symbiotic leeches devour her arms and latch on to her shoulders, and things only get stranger from that point. There’s a LOT going on with this book, the ideas it tangles up, and the surreal world it presents. Which means there’s a lot of possible angles from which it looks a little like other books.
So you enjoyed this bizarre romp of a book and are still hungry for more. If…
…you want another farcical dystopia that satirizes society’s ethical failings: City of Truth, by James Morrow.
Nobody in the city of Veritas can bring themselves to lie, due to the traumatic electroshock therapy each resident is subject to. While this leads one man to learn the secrets of lying in an attempt to save his son’s life, it also leads to a world of tactless flirting and hilariously blunt brand names. Morrow’s concerns are more philosophical (what is objective truth?) than Claypool’s (what if no guillotine?), though both books are rife with perceptive humor.
…spare, alienating dystopias are more of your thing: Amatka, by Karin Tidbeck.
Amatka doesn’t have outright weirdness on the level of giant tardigrade stampedes, but it’s unsettling in myriad small ways that build up over the course of the novel: peoples’ behavior, the incessant government cataloging, the isolated cities subsisting entirely on processed mushroom food-products. Leech Girl and Amatka take different approaches to the power of expression and social control.
…-opias don’t really grab you, but weirdness and anticapitalist sentiments are right up your alley: Stay Crazy, by Erica Satifka.
These novels both feature protagonists being strung along by managers in league with evil (or at least banality;) one in the far future, one in the frozen foods aisle. Both of these books’ atypical sci-fi setups could draw comparisons to Philip K. Dick with more empathetic characterization, peeling back the skin of society to see what kind of weirdness actually pulses beneath.
…you don’t care about politics but only want minimalist prose and maximalist oddities: Fortune Box, by Madeleine Swann.
Ugh, FINE. If you thought an art-cop with leech arms was quirky then dig in to this little collection of co-eds in a hamster cage, eyeball-sprouting cupcakes, and a book that turns out to be your own ghostwritten biography. I was surprised by the flurry of bizarre skits with little to no rest in between this book throws at you. It’s like a third date with Salvidor Dali.
…I only came for the bugs so fuck me up fam: The Roaches Have No King, by Daniel Weiss.
I mean… there’s this one satire written entirely from a New York cockroach’s point of view. There isn’t a lot in common beyond the bugs but if that’s really your thing, hey, go hog wild.