It’s my turn on the BlogTour The High-Rise Diver by Julia von Lucadou, translated from the German by Sharmila Cohen.
About the Author
Julia von Lucadou was born in Heidelberg in 1982. She studied film and theater at Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz and Victoria University of Wellington and earned her PhD in Film Studies in 2015. Lucadou worked as both an assistant director and a television editor prior to writing The High-Rise Diver, her debut novel, which was nominated for the Swiss Book Prize in 2018. She lives between Biel, New York, and Cologne.
Sharmila Cohen is an award-winning writer and German-to-English translator who has translated the works of several leading German-language authors. Her work has been featured in publications such as BOMB and Harpers, and her projects span from poetry and literary fiction to crime and children’s stories. Originally from New York, Cohen came to Berlin in 2011 as a Fulbright Scholar to complete an experimental translation project with local poets. She now divides her time between both cities.
About the book
‘The High Rise Diver is a chillingly beautiful dissection of perfected capitalism. Lucadou creates a horribly convincing world where every aspect of existence has been monetised. In a taut, delicate narrative an implacable and disinterested cruelty faces the human ache for tenderness, mercy, contact and affection.’ A.L. Kennedy
Riva is a “high-rise diver,” a top athlete with millions of fans, and a perfectly functioning human on all levels. Suddenly she rebels, breaking her contract and refusing to train. Cameras are everywhere in her world, but she doesn’t know her every move is being watched by Hitomi, the psychologist tasked with reining Riva back in.
Unquestionably loyal to the system, Hitomi’s own life is at stake: should she fail to deliver, she will be banned to the “peripheries,” the filthy outskirts of society. For readers of The Handmaid’s Tale, The Circle, and Brave New World, this chilling dystopia constructs a world uncomfortably close to our own, in which performance is everything.
This is going on my top reads of 2021. It is an intricately planned and well written dystopian story. A premise with shades of Orwell’s 1984, but perhaps on a much bigger scale.
To Hitomi Riva is just a job, a way to keep her status, which is closely linked to obedience and performance, and in turn to performance management. The human and humane element is non-existent. Trying to determine why the high-rise flyer refuses to fly and convincing her to jump once again becomes all consuming and directly linked to the slow decline of Hitomi’s success.
The Big Brother or Sister aspect is more than intrusive it is law, lifestyle and a mind-set. It’s voluntary because nobody questions it, unless they aren’t part of the right side of the tracks. The privileged side, who are set on paths to success, whereas the rest are treated like the poor relatives.
But let’s talk about that privilege and success, is it worth being subjected to a life of 24/7 scrutiny in all areas of their lives or being isolated from all emotional bonds like a Harlow monkey. Creating a species that craves positive reinforcement to a degree that it makes them easy to control – it’s fascinating and in equal measures frightening.
Lucadou is the kind of writer who thrives on the possibilities of speculative creativity, especially when they are cemented in possible futuristic visions of our society. Compelling and riveting. On a side-note – excellent translation.