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J.G. Ballard
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The Day of Creation: A Novel

3.53 of 5 stars 3.53  ·  rating details  ·  577 ratings  ·  40 reviews
On the arid, war-plagued
terrain of central Africa, a manic doctor is consumed with visions of
transforming the Sahara into a land of abundance. But Dr. Mallory’s obsession
quickly spirals dangerously out of control. First published in 1987, this
classic Ballard thriller continues to resonate “with dark implications for the
future of humanity” (Publishers Weekly).
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Published May 21st 2012 by Liveright (first published 1987)
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F.R.
When I read ‘Rushing to Paradise’ the other month, I think I said that Ballard had managed to create a good sense of place away from his normal Shepperton stamping patch. But even though ‘The Day of Creation’ has an African setting, that sense of place is sadly lacking. Indeed it is so vague as to be almost dream-like, and that the whole thing is a dream is an interpretation Ballard positively invites. (Although bearing in mind that Ballard also wrote the likes of ‘The Atrocity Exhibition’, this ...more
Alan
Jun 21, 2012 Alan rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Mad dogs and Englishmen
Recommended to Alan by: An astronaut half-buried in dry sand, far from any ocean
J.G. Ballard was a giant of speculative fiction. His feral visions of futures in decay were a tremendously influential perspective on what had all too often been an unreflectively triumphalist literature. After encountering works like High Rise, The Terminal Beach, The Drowned World, The Crystal World, The Atrocity Exhibition and of course Crash, it becomes much more difficult to accept wide-eyed technological utopias without at least a degree of skepticism. His books take hold of the mind and w ...more
Akiva
What the hell just happened? I guess this isn't the first book I've read about traveling down a river with a narrator whose reliability is questionable at best. Well I suppose he is traveling up a river. Who is he? Dr. Mallory, an Englishman running a clinic for the WHO in Africa. He's obsessed with irrigating the local town and with the idea of another Nile to green the Sahara. The river of his dreams comes pouring through, and he's convinced he caused it. And so as everything goes mad around h ...more
Kevin Tole
Having finished reading his autobiography, Crash and The Atrocity Exhibition I thought I would delve into other stuff by yer man Ballard as I was totally knocked out by Crash and the Atrocity Exhibition and he seemed far far more than the average middle class British writer. This one was the first that came to hand from the local library (they DO still have them and my word are they a resource that needs / must be maintained.)

It's a difficult book to review. Well written but without the great qu
...more
Levent Mollamustafaoglu
The Day of Creation is the first non-Science-fiction book of J.G. Ballard that I have read. I have read many Ballard books in the 70's and 80's when I started reading lots of science fiction. I especially liked his short stories which sometimes had surrealist images and stories a bit like Jorge Luis Borges. I keep remembering the poignant story The Drowned Giant from the book The Terminal Beach.

The book tells the story of Dr. Mallory, who is treating patients in a central African country and als
...more
David
Mallory, a English doctor in Africa, tries to figure a way to restore a dried lake by drilling wells on its shore, in a country that is in the midst of a civil war. By accident he moves a bit earth with his foot and unleases a spring that in a few days becomes a river. Of course, the river fills the lake, becomes a wide river, he names Mallory. I kept wondering, is such a thing geologically possible? Anyway, he wants to find the source of the river many miles upstream, and with a prepubescent Af ...more
Isabel (kittiwake)
A reverie of great rivers had overwhelmed me, moments marked by the measures of dream and myth. I sat under the canvas awning in the bows of the ferry, as the hours and days slid us through the copper haze that lay over the distant channel of the Mallory.

Mallory is a WHO doctor in the arid African town of Port-la-Nouvelle, which is threatened by the encroachment of the Sahara and an anti-government guerrilla army of General Harare. As well as running a clinic, he has taken charge of a drilling p
...more
David Manns
I think, on reflection, that this is a minor Ballard novel. He seems at times to be recycling well-worn Ballardian tropes (abandoned airfields, a protagonist on the edge of psychosis, disturbing sexual imagery) with no clear purpose.

The "hero" Dr. Mallory somehow conjures a mighty river from the dust of the African desert and we are never quite sure if this and his subsequent adventures are real or the product of a diseased mind. The supporting cast are barely fleshed out, even the object of his
...more
Kent Winward
This Ballard story was like a Heart of Darkness acid trip, where Mallory (not Marlow) takes off up the river to get to the point of creation. Instead of the terrain being a symbol of the inner journey, the river actually becomes the actual embodiment of the doctor's persona. This isn't a book to enjoy as much as it is to reflect on.
Ryan
Made it about a third of the way into the book but couldn't get hooked on the plot. Even though I was intrigued by the exotic setting and premise of this novel, the pacing was too languid, with many chapters devoted to describing the seemingly inexorable advance of the river accidentally uncovered by the protagnist Dr Mallory. Hope his other works are more exciting given the author's fame.
Cassandra
Well, yeah. I finished it. I didn't get into it but I finished it.

I love this guy and all but unless you're a die-hard fan, you can probably skip this one. There certainly are moments and some clever critique and satire on the West's preoccupation with media and its attitude to Africa, but there's also a lot of waffle, repetition and strange analogies and allusions that don't really fit. And not in a manner that makes you feel uneasy and unnerved, they just don't work. It's not as creepy and ph
...more
Dan
A little bit Heart of Darkness, a little bit Robinson Crusoe, a little bit Adventures of Huckleberry Finn—even some Lolita. References to myth and the “dream-time” resonate with the work of Mircea Eliade. In addition to the narrative of the African adventure, there is a recurrent critique of television.
Sean
I keep reading Ballard novels, even though I don't really love any of them. He's such a strange writer. His language is simultaneously dispassionate and overwrought. This one's story, about a doctor in Africa following a newly arisen river to its source, kind of dies at the end, as though Ballard wasn't willing to take the premise all the way out. Everything wraps up as though nothing unusual happened along the way. Oh well. At least no one had sex with a car.
Wyatt
It's always good to find stories that have (even vaguely) to do with the water crisis/resource wars. The last one I found was the War of Don Emmanuel's Nether Parts...which wasn't what I was expecting. Neither was this. There are traces of Conrad in this journey up the river story, and maybe even a bit of Lolita, but that's just me stretching to find references. The Day of Creation is not like any other novel that I have read. It's the narrative that is the liquid. Here Ballard writes story of s ...more
John
Definitely not my favourite Ballard, this book starts well and I was thinking "wow, 25 years on and still an accurate picture of fringe Saharan Africa" with army, guerrillas, aid workers and economic leeches from the North. But once the river appears we are off into the realms of "the meaning of life" with echoes of "Heart of Darkness". Oddly enough I have recently seen "Mud" and some of the descriptive passages reminded me of that film and it's source.
But as I goes on, it begins to drag and as
...more
Marsha
I had some trouble getting into this book because it was hard to understand what was going on. A man uproots a huge tree trunk and water starts to flow. The flow increases until a river is formed, which continues to grow and grow. The man who uprooted the tree believes he created the river and sets off to discover the source. His journey is hampered by two warring factions & a fading journalist. I was not at all prepared for what he found when he finally got to the source. This book is full ...more
Lala
I just started on my J.G. Ballard kick after reading Empire of the Sun, which I highly recommend. This one is good, but not as good as Empire. Semi-autobiographical novels seem to find their own impetus and become the writer's best novel. Such as Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five being his best book, in my opinion, compared to his other books, which I did like quite a bit. Or Edward Abbey's Desert Solitaire. Same thing. Beautiful imagery of going up the new Nile in the desert of Africa, causing war ...more
Maria Grazia
Uno dei più onirici libri di Ballard, un ibrido tra la genesi e Cuore di tenebra.
C'è la creazione di un fiume, che sgorga in mezzo al deserto dalla voragine lasciata dalla rimozione di una mostruosa radice, c'è il viaggio lungo il fiume e la prograssiva perdita dell'innocenza dell'uomo che, nella suo cieca arroganza di bianco è convinto di aver fatto nascere il fiume, e del fiume stesso.
E c'è una piccola Eva primitiva, che non si coungiungerà con l'Adamo bianco, decretando la fine di tutto.
Khenan Bragador
Been wanting to read another Ballard for ages, and I think I set my hopes too high. Certainly a good read, but not amazing. Lets hope his others are better!
Benjamin Kahn
Despite the three stars, I found this book a bit of a slog, especially towards the end. Definitely one of my least favourite Ballard's. Parts of it reminded me very strongly of The Drowned World. I found that several times Ballard seemed to lose his way and the story bogged down. However, there were enough good parts and he writes well enough that it was enjoyable despite that, and I definitely don't regret reading it.
Derek
Read The Day of Creation waiting in airports & flying over east Africa—classic Ballard, set in the desert of central Africa. The protagonist, Dr. Mal, abandons his failing WHO clinic & «invents» a river, the third Nile, then in Heart of Darkness fashion he follows it upstream, with a 12-year old haughty native nymph & a blind filmmaker, to the river's source so he can destroy what he created.
Zamuzel
I struggled with the dreamlike narrative to maintain interest, but by the end the novel had it had at least got me thinking. It transcends the unlikeable characters and unrealistic situation to have some touching and chilling moments.
Judah T.
A more hallucinatory Heart of Darkness. Ballard uses post colonial Africa as a place to stage the decay of our western structures. The "other" is Ballards truth. His future is one where western structure has decayed, and we are unveiled as the animals we truly are. Delightfully twisted.
Leif Erik
This is what Conrad's Heart Of Darkness should have been. The hubris of the Western missionary doctor combined with the deceptive apathy of the natives combine to show why new opportunies to do better are generally squandered to do what's easy.
Andrew Boswell
Haunting is the best way to describe this complex book. There are some important spiritual themes underpinning this work, and I feel that it is another take, or perhaps another side of the coin of Heart of Darkness.
Eleanore
Wow. This was my intro to Ballard, and it did not disappoint. The language is beautiful and flows as effortlessly as the river it describes. Stunning book. Can't wait to dive into his other novels.
Ann
Loved this book - hauntingly mesmerising but such a contrast! A page turner that moved so slowly I thought my heart would stop.
dead letter office
J.G. Ballard rewrites Heart of Darkness. Not bad, not good, which I guess kind of boils down to not worth it.
Steve Luttrell
This is the greatest Werner Herzog movie that Werner Herzog never made. Not prime Ballard, but plenty good.
Lord Humungus
Ballard's language is great but this story is ultimately unsatisfying and generally boring.
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James Graham "J. G." Ballard (15 November 1930 – 19 April 2009) was an English novelist, short story writer, and essayist. Ballard came to be associated with the New Wave of science fiction early in his career with apocalyptic (or post-apocalyptic) novels such as The Drowned World (1962), The Burning World (1964), and The Crystal World (1966). In the late 1960s and early 1970s Ballard focused on a ...more
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