"This electrifying, character-rich novel conjures intense feelings of fear, longing, hope and despair from a remarkable concept — what happens when the world careers into existential crisis?"
Dazzlingly zeitgeisty, Hanna Jameson’s Are You Happy Now? cuts to the core of our times, exploring what it means to be happy, to love, and to live in the heightened context of a mystery psychogenic illness. It’s an un-put-down-able blast of story-telling genius — dark, smart, and funny with it.
When four friends gather at a wedding in New York, at different stages of different roads to finding fulfilment in their professional and personal lives, one of the guests is taken ill. She sits down and won’t get up. She seems to be in some kind of catatonic state, but what’s the cause? Can it be cured? It seems to be a prolonged anxiety attack, but no one knows what’s wrong with her. This is just the first instance of a global phenomenon that comes to be termed “psychogenic catatonia” or “psychogenic death”. Essentially, it seems the afflicted are giving up on life.
As cases and casualties escalate around the world, the “sitters”, as they’re later termed, are almost seen as an inconvenience, such is the scale of the phenomenon, with mass occurrences at big gatherings. Is it a collective expression of nihilism? Are the afflicted choosing to do this? Is it an act of selfishness? And why do so many want in on the act?
Against this intense, terrifying backdrop, the novel’s brilliantly drawn characters are experiencing their own individual existential crises, and practical ones, too. Can I make rent this month? Can I pay my hospital bills? Do I really want to be with this person? Am I living a lie?
Part coming-of-age story, part nihilistic exposé, Are You Happy Now? is wholly compulsive.
|Primary Genre||Literary Fiction|
Closing date: 14/12/2023
Closing date: 10/12/2023