The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber

The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber

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This book is a work of art. I began it knowing very little. I haven’t read any other of the author’s works but knew he was special and kind of a big deal. This book is his first in twelve years and supposedly his last. Michel Faber’s The Book of Strange New Things is about a missionary. Peter leaves Earth to teach the word of the Lord on a far off planet, leaving his wife, Bea, behind.

They communicate through email but Peter is more focused on his mission: the alien concept of a god to … well … aliens. This is simply a vehicle for bigger questions. The human race is colonising this planet, and are far from integrating into it. Judging from Bea’s emails, the prospect of building a civilisation on another planet can’t come soon enough. This novel throws many questions and debates into the air, making it a fascinating read. Almost like a though experiment; not when will we leave the planet, but rather, should we?

Faber’s writing is like nothing I’ve read before. He took us to that planet, I felt the humanity of the planet as I read it on the train. He created a new language. It’s a perfect balance of the science fiction and religion. Despite the main character being a man of god, and preaching to the alien race, I as a reader didn’t feel preached too. If anything, this novel explores the problematic nature of blind worship. My mind was truly blown.