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In the Country of Last Things

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  10,775 ratings  ·  796 reviews
'That is how it works in the City. Every time you think you know the answer to a question, you discover that the question makes no sense . . .'

This is the story of Anna Blume and her journey to find her lost brother, William, in the unnamed City. Like the City itself, however, it is a journey that is doomed, and so all that is left is Anna's unwritten account of what
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Paperback, 2005, 188 pages
Published 1987 by Faber and Faber Limited
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Average rating 3.87  · 
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 ·  10,775 ratings  ·  796 reviews


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Brian
Feb 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have friends who, when entering my library for the first time, see my collection of Auster novels and say, "Oh my God! You read Auster!" I have other friends who, when entering my library for the first time, see my collection of Auster novels and say, "Oh my God! You read Auster!?" One way spoken in surprise and delight, the other in surprise and derision. Yes, Auster polarizes.

And I get why people don't like him. Many of his novels have a self-referential shtick that I can see as being
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Ian "Marvin" Graye
Post-Apocalyptic Apocrypha

I don’t normally seek out post-apocalyptic novels, but Paul Auster’s novel is one to treasure.

Even though it is an early work, I felt I was in the hands of a master.

It is both beautifully written and wise.

It’s easy to read, but it’s not so easily “readable” that I could read it without turning the telly off.

Although its style is sparse and economical, there’s a lot happening beneath the surface.

Still, Auster carefully manages exactly how much he wants us to know and
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Violet wells
The account in the form of a letter of a girl who has gone to look for her missing brother in a dystopian city where everything that provides a sense of self is vanishing.

There’s a constant sense of an author discovering and enjoying his talent in this short novel. He doesn’t waste energy on making his world logically plausible or itemising how the apocalyptic disaster happened. We’re very much in an existential twilight zone world. The tone essentially is one of macabre playfulness. There’s
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7jane
Feb 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Recommended to 7jane by: Maciek
Anna Blume writes in a notebook her account of her time in an unnamed city where she arrived by a foreign aid ship, 19 and a know-it-all, looking for her brother, William. It is addressed to an unnamed friend-from-childhood, and we know pretty early her search is (view spoiler). The story becomes not just her story, but a story of things ending, things decaying, like vanishing into thin air or something.

The city is not named, nor the country she came from, nor the country
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Maciek
When you live in the city, you learn to take nothing for granted. Close your eyes for a moment, turn around to look at something else, and the thing that was before you is suddenly gone. Nothing lasts, you see, not even the thoughts inside you.

Paul Auster's last novel, Sunset Park, opens with the main protagonist working for a south Florida realty company which deals with cleaning out reposessed homes; his name is Miles Heller, he's 28 and he takes photographs of abandoned things, the
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Andrew Smith
Anna Blume has travelled to an unnamed place. She’s looking for her brother who came here too, on a journalistic assignment some time ago. She’d arrived on an aid ship, which gives us some clue as to what she’d have been likely to find here, it’s a desperate place and it’s far from safe. We learn of Anna’s plight through a letter she’s written to a old friend – in fact ‘letter’ might be understating it, it’s more a series of journal entries. The city Anna finds herself in is disappearing around ...more
Chris
Nov 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I am ridiculously impressed with this book thus far - post-apocalyptic fiction is absolutely my favorite genre, and this is such a different take on it that I haven't been able to stop reading. Typically, nearly the entire population is already dead or dying, whereas Auster has entire cities still squabbling and struggling to survive. Far more plausible. Of course, more and more people would die as fresh water becomes scarce, food unavailable in markets, sewage systems cease to function, etc. ...more
Shovelmonkey1
Oct 30, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: hardcore Auster fans - this is his old skool repertoire
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: burning need to complete the entire Auster back catalogue
Ok people, the world is going to shit. Falling apart at the seams. Imploding into a fiery ball of people fuelled insanity. So what are you going to do about it?

Do you...
a. PANIC! Scream and run around in circles waving your arms above your head.
b. Start hoarding toilet roll. You have it on good authority that it might become the currency of the realm.
c. Emulate Michael Douglas in popular 80s yuppie-fest, "Falling Down" and shoot everyone before they get you first. After all it is only a matter
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Michael
Existential tale of a woman, Anna, who moves to an unnamed country to find her brother and ends up in a quest for survival in an economically-collapsed urban dystopia. As with a fairy tale, everything is boiled down to bare essentials, rendered in the compelling voice that evolves in Anna's journal. But there is richness in the spareness, and I couldn't help but be drawn into rooting for her as some kind of advocate for humanity. As with McCarthy's The Road, written over 20 years later, we don't ...more
Juliet
May 29, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Anna
Jun 14, 2017 rated it liked it
In the Country of Paul Auster

A major difference I noticed between mature/literary and immature/entertainment dystopias is that the second type always seeks to provide an acceptable explanation of why the dystopian world has emerged and very often they just turn into common thrillers placed in those altered worlds. Although I am not that well-versed in either, I can tell from the pieces of literary-fiction dystopias I read recently that they evade this trap. Instead, they focus on the human
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Heidi Ward
In the small but powerful book In The Country of Last Things Paul Auster evokes a distressingly plausible dystopia. Nothing catastrophic seems to have occurred -- just a general collapse of public services, utilities, education, government, military, industry, the environment . . . basically all that represents "civilization" as we know it has ground to a Dark Ages crawl.
Our narrator Anna came to the city (which could be Manhattan, or D.C., really any major metropolis) from somewhere better. She
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ياسر أحمد
Jan 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: greatest-novels

Imagine an unknown city in the near future, populated almost wholly by street dwellers. City that is undergoing a catastrophic economic decline. Buildings collapse daily, driving huge numbers of citizens into the streets, where they starve or die of exposure if they aren't murdered by other vagrants first.

Auster (my beloved author) uses his usual tremendous power with words to convey the depth of all the darkest of the dark.
“Nothing lasts, you see, not even the thoughts inside you. And you must
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S.
Jul 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
translater and expat Paul Auster suddenly at age 35 releases his father-son memoir 'Invention of Solitude' and then at age 40 releases the acclaimed New York Trilogy as well as this slim, dystopian volume. drawing comparisons most closely with '1984,' "The Country of Last Things" is faintly allegorical (poverty?), post-disaster, Roadesque (but the Road is 2006 and this is 1987), a city novel, a poverty novel, a hunger novel, an examination of societal breakdown as well as incident, idealism, and ...more
Nicholas
Mar 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Auster plunges us into a dystopian nightmare in which love, dignity and compassion are still possible. His simple, clear prose unerringly trace his characters' inner logic—despite the seemingly fortuitous unfolding of events. (I'm assuming it is an early work.) Afterwards, I found myself sitting very quietly, the way you do when something momentous has passed.
Stevie O'Connor
Apr 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was the first Paul Auster book that I ever read and I remember it burning a fierce imprint onto my mind, I followed his career ever since. Auster is a whimsical story-teller, yet is ferocious and uncompromising in tone, highly recommended reading.
Harry Collier IV
Paul Auster is known as one of the masters of metafiction, or bringing one's own experience into a story and thus adding a level of meaning, and so I have decided to bring my own experience of Auster into this review in order to try and figure out what it is all about.
This book was the second thing by Auster I have read. Last Christmas, I received a lovely Folio Society edition of The New York Triology and read the first story "City of Glass." Since the books were originally written as three
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Michelle
Jan 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
The most brilliant book. Exactly why I love Auster and absolutely why I should read his work much more often than I have. Those words...
Misha
Jul 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
In this novel, Paul Auster has painted a brutally beautiful portrait of a society in collapse, and the ways humanity finds ways not only to go on in the face of horrific desolation, but to retain its soul. There's a "dark fairy tale meets Dickensian social realism" vibe to this novel. I could easily picture this adapted into a film by Terry Gilliam -- he and Auster seem to share a particular post-apocalyptic aesthetic of the bizarre and the grotesque.

(view spoiler)
...more
Chris Dietzel
Dec 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If Sartre's No Exit is the epitome of an existentialist hell, this book is the epitome of what hell would be like if it were every day life in a city. Auster's story focuses on a country that has deteriorated into almost complete anarchy. Starvation and theft are so rampant no one really cares about them anymore. Everyone is suffering until they eventually die. In some ways this was my favorite Auster book, and in some ways it was my least favorite. I loved the setting he establishes--a city in ...more
Thomas
Jan 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love a good dystopian novel and this is a good dsytopian novel. It's fascinating and sad.
Bandit
Aug 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love Paul Auster's books. I've read mostly all of his fiction and now finally this one that's been eluding me for quite some time and was finally acquired through an interlibrary loan. Well worth the wait, well worth a read...all of these platitudes are terribly inadequate when it comes to describing In the Country of Last Things. But I do think it might be a masterpiece, a classic of dystopian fiction that be shelved right next to Brave New World, 1984 and the like. Presented as one long ...more
Rob
Mar 26, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I close the covers of this book with a sense of foreboding and uncertainty. The narrative is a kissing cousin to Dhalgren , and is a city only a little less shifty than Bellona. It isn't per se dystopian (too anarchic?), nor is it really "apocalyptic" (there's been no obvious end of the world) but it's disturbed and disturbing and turned upside down. It's an epistolary novel, and as such conjures up comparisons with The Handmaid's Tale , but less linear. It's harder to guess where this goes ...more
Cam  Roberts
Oct 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Set in an emaciated world, Auster offers us a bleak tale of memory, loss, and the endurance of the human spirit in the face of total and complete erasure.
Jake Berlin
gripping and terrifying, auster creates a compelling dystopian cityscape and then somehow pulls the subtlety of the human spirit from it.
Hayden
Jan 19, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
http://haydenwritesthings.wordpress.c...

I finished this book on the train yesterday and, like all of Auster’s books, I wanted to immediately turn the book over and start again.

But I didn’t, and maybe that says something about this particular book. Moon Palace I must have read over five times now, and The New York Trilogy has been read at least four times - I’ve turned these books over in my hands on the same day, reaching the end only to start at the beginning again. This didn’t happen with In
...more
Alessandro
Nov 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Written in first person; depicts a world filled with hollow men, only occasionally brightened by definite and sympathetic personalities; overflowing with some really amazing and meaningful sentences: I might be talking of Hearts of Darkness, but I must admit that Auster really did catch my attention with this short (albeit longer than Conrad's ) novel. From the very first page we found ourselves thrown in a postapocalyptic world, with no clear contest. The world, the country, is utterly doomed, ...more
Beth
Jul 20, 2017 rated it liked it
Bleak. I think that pretty much sums this up!
Fulya Koylu
Dec 19, 2019 rated it liked it
This book was easy to follow compared to other Paul Auster novels. It still has an Austeresque style however it did not give me what I expected from a Paul Auster novel. Or maybe it just has been too long since I read my last Auster.
Bill
Oct 31, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can't say this is the best Auster novel I've read, and maybe I'm a victim of my own expectations. I had assumed this would be some sort of post-modern detective novel that I've come to expect like New York trilogy, Leviathan, etc etc, but instead, he has written a post-apocalyptic novel that surprised me. There are times where I was completely enthralled by the book, but also times where I felt the novel was wandering in a not-so-interesting manner. I will say that the scenario is highly ...more
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Paul Auster is the bestselling author of Report from the Interior, Winter Journal, Sunset Park, Invisible, The Book of Illusions, and The New York Trilogy, among many other works. He has been awarded the Prince of Asturias Prize for Literature, the Prix Médicis Étranger, the Independent Spirit Award, and the Premio Napoli. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the American ...more
“Nothing lasts, you see, not even the thoughts inside you. And you musn't
waste your time looking for them. Once a thing is gone, that is the end of it.”
53 likes
“إنَّ الذاكرة , كما تعلم , هي الفخُّ الأكبر .” 53 likes
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