There’s something about Britain just now. Why are so many writers looking at it through the lens of fantasy – either in children’s literature or science fiction? Could it be that we can only bear to look at the reality of what New Labour has brought about through dystopian visions? Hot on the heels of Kazuo Ishiguro’s strange fable about clones, Never Let Me Go, comes Rupert Thomson’s Divided Kingdom. Here, the eight-year-old hero has been forcibly separated from his parents because of a ‘rearrangement’ of Britain according to the Hippocratic concept of the four humours.
The choleric are assigned to the Yellow Quarter, the melancholic the Green, the empathetic the Blue and the phlegmatic the Red (the most desirable). Each Quarter of Britain is surrounded by supposedly impenetrable concrete walls, and armed guards. Each has its own flag and animal, and those who show signs