Monday, November 01, 2010

Handling the Undead, by John Ajvide Lindqvist

(hb; 2005, 2010. Translated into English by Ebba Segerberg.)

From the inside flap:

"Something peculiar is happening. While the city is enduring a heat wave, people are finding out that their electric appliances won't stay switched off. And everyone has a blinding headache. Then the terrible news breaks - in the city morgue, the newly dead are waking.

"David always knew his wife was far too good for him. But he never knew how lost he'd be without her until the night she died. Now she's gone and he's alone. But when he goes to identify her body, she opens her eye. . .

"Across the city, grieving families find themselves able to see their loved ones one last time. But are these creatures really them? How long can this last? And what deadly price will they have to pay for the chance to see their spouses and children just one more time?"


This is a sublime, dread-intensive, hard-to-set-down work, one of the best horror novels I've read this year.

Handling the Undead adopts a fresh narrative tack in terms of how society and individuals process their shock at the returning dead, who are less Night of the Living Dead than one might expect.

Lindqvist doesn't spoonfeed the novel's whys, hows and whos to readers, and that, for this reader, lent an "anything could happen" feel to Handling. Readers who are looking for action and gore should probably avoid this book -- Handling is not about that: it's about us, as people, collective and individually.

Worth owning, this, even if you're like me (tired of the overripe zombie genre, whose filmmakers and writers too often fail to establish their own unique voices, and who, instead, rest lazily on the storylines/violent tones established by George A. Romero's earlier work).


The film version is scheduled for a 2013 stateside release. I'll update the (concrete) information on this as soon as I become aware of it.

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