Red Pill by Hari Kunzru - review by Tomiwa Owolade

Tomiwa Owolade

Keyboard Warrior

Red Pill


Scribner 304pp £14.99

Hari Kunzru’s sixth novel explores timely subjects – an internet environment that fosters paranoia; far-right movements that make selective use of the past to further their ends – and does so with a pervasive sense of gloom. It is set in 2016, with scenes in Germany, France, the Scottish Highlands and America, on the cusp of Trump’s election victory.

The unnamed narrator is a freelance writer from Brooklyn with an acute feeling of impending crisis. He is given a three-month residency at the Deuter Center, a writers’ retreat in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee. He has arrived to write a book about the concept of the self in lyric poetry. This is not a disinterested activity: he is writing to affirm a sense of himself as the world appears to disintegrate.

Anton, an enigmatic screenwriter and alt-right agitator, becomes the focal point of the narrator’s anxieties. He first encounters Anton remotely, when he starts to watch a television series entitled Blue Lives. A police drama written by Anton, it elides the moral differences between the cops and the gangsters. Blue Lives

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

RLF - March

A Mirror - Westend

Follow Literary Review on Twitter