"Profoundly prescient and un-put-down-able, this feminist companion to Orwell’s 1984 is a sure-fire book of the year."
Sanctioned by the estate of George Orwell, Sandra Newman’s Julia sees 1984 freshly reimagined through a feminist lens, through the eyes of 26-year-old Julia, a mechanic who’s responsible for repairing novel-writing machines in the Ministry of Truth’s Fiction Department. Voyaging deep into lesser-explored aspects of Oceania, it’s an electrifying triumph that melds the vision and spirit of Orwell’s original with renewed relevance.
At home, after a day at work that saw her notice Winston Smith’s “open quiescent” face, for some reason, Julia’s female hostel-mates discuss “the Party’s preferred method for its members to have babies”. Namely, artsem (artificial insemination). While sex outside marriage had always been criminal, “now even marriage was regarded suspiciously as a source of divided loyalties…It was also how unmarried girls covered up for sexcrime when they got pregnant.” Then she finds a note in the locker. “I LOVE YOU” it reads, which sends her into a panic as to who wrote it, and then comes the discovery of an “unbirth” in the hostel’s toilet.
Julia’s 1984 journey story sees her become further intrigued by Winston. A woman who’s worked out how to survive within the restrictions and constant surveillance of the regime, she has greater urgency than Orwell’s Winston, and she knows how fatal her act of handing him a note might be.
Remarkably, Julia succeeds at supplementing and enhancing the iconic original in unexpected ways. It’s a bold, brutal, brave work.
|Primary Genre||Dystopian Fiction|