“We’re all gonna die!”

Don Delillo: Underworld. ISBN 978-1-4472-8939-5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ What a brilliant, disturbing tale! “Underworld” is one of those books that initially left me speechless when I had finished it. I was stunned by its powerful language, its intertwined plots and the precision of the writer’s social study. At the centre of the book is Nick Shay, an expert in waste management and his personal quest to give his life a meaning. His life is  a complex story beginning with a not-so-ideal youth in the Bronx and leading to random encounters with other people looking for wisdom like himself, trying to make sense of their lives. Multiple invisible links connect the different characters, some meet several times under unforeseeable circumstances.

It all happens in the midst of the Cold War, and the story is told backwards gradually reveals these links. Delillo’s calm and detached narrating style brutally exposes the absurdity of life in a world defined by the possibility of nuclear annihilation, by the unequal chances in the American society any an ever-growing production of consumer goods and mountains of waste the consequence. It can be summarized by the ironic outcry of an US stand-up comedian at the climax of the Cuba missile crisis: “We’re all gonna die!”

While reading this novel, I discovered the beauty of Sergei Prokofiev’s opera “Love of the Three Oranges” and the piano suite that he derived from it:

The quest for identity or a fool among fools