I can’t remember the last time I cried while I was reading a book, but Terry Pratchett’s Nation certainly did produce a bit of a sniffle today. The first book by Pratchett not set on Discworld since, er, Good Omens, I think, is not only a philosophical masterpiece but also side-splittingly, laugh out loud funny. I think only Pratchett (and sometimes Dawkins) can get this combination right.
In ‘Nation‘ we witness the ancient struggle between belief and reality: If the gods (or god) exists, why is there so much wrong with this world? Is the proof for supernatural belief a loads of of old twaddle? These age old questions are set on an idyllic island in an alternative reality Pacific Ocean that has just hit by an enormous tsunami, wiping out it’s population. Only a 13 year old inhabitant and an English girl (that was stranded with the schooner she was travelling on) are left on the tropical paradise that is slowly but surely filling up with refugees. In between making beer, defending the island from cannibals and negotiating with the British Crown these two have to come to terms (no, not with their sexuality. This is not Blue Lagoon) with their inner and cultural daemons. While I was looking forward to another Discworld and some Shenanigans of Vimes and his posse, this book is very welcome in a time when the secular western world is under attack from the Sarah Palins of our time.
‘Nation’ is tender, humane, a delight to read, very moving, and has maybe the best ending of all of Pratchett’s books.
I’ll now read it again.