Guided tours of dystopia

The author of "Birds of America" selects five favorite novels about the future.

By Lorrie Moore
September 13, 1999 8:00PM (UTC)
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The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

Although feminine experience is dystopian in most of Atwood's comic novels, here the dystopia is futuristic, unfunny, highly and chillingly designed.

White Noise by Don DeLillo

From Hitler studies to a poisonous global cloud: Everything in this bleak satire has come true. Which means, I guess, that it was true to begin with. In 1985 its publisher called it "prescient." (How did they know?)


Fiskadoro by Denis Johnson

A beautiful, curious book with a magical, almost incantatory prose style. As with so many futurist visions, human survival involves lonely self-negation.

Paradise by Toni Morrison

Masculine, socioeconomic blight meets feminist sanctuary. The narrative here works from several different (tragic) angles simultaneously. It is a complicated addition to Morrison's ongoing commentary on African-American life.

Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

The world as we know it is destroyed. But this is an excellent thing. Humans survive by evolving smaller not larger brains. This is the dystopia novel as coolly angry comedy. Its epigraph is Ann Frank's shattering "In spite of everything, I still believe people are really good at heart."

Lorrie Moore

Lorrie Moore is the author of five books, including, most recently, "Birds of America."

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