Today I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for The High Rise Diver by Julia von Lucadou.
Big Sister is watching you.
Riva is a “high-rise diver,” a top athlete with millions of fans, and a perfectly
functioning human on all levels. Suddenly she rebels, breaking her contract
and refusing to train. Cameras are everywhere in her world, but she doesn’t
know her every move is being watched by Hitomi, the psychologist tasked
with reining Riva back in.
Unquestionably loyal to the system, Hitomi’s own life is at stake: should she
fail to deliver, she will be banned to the “peripheries,” the filthy outskirts of
society. For readers of The Handmaid’s Tale, The Circle, and Brave New
World, this chilling dystopia constructs a world uncomfortably close to our
own, in which performance is everything.
‘The High Rise Diver is a chillingly beautiful dissection of perfected capitalism. Lucadou creates a horribly convincing world where every aspect of existence has been monetised. In a taut, delicate narrative an implacable and disinterested cruelty
faces the human ache for tenderness, mercy, contact and affection.’ A.L.
I found this a rather addictive novel. As quoted of A.L. Kennedy ‘a chillingly beautiful dissection of perfected capitalism.’ It touches on our obsession with both technology and the need to monitor, to watch, to know every little thing going on. As a subject I felt strangely distant from Riva but that is perhaps intentional from the author. I felt that our main focus was on Hitomi. Hitomi whose main focus was Riva. The watcher watching the watcher. Riva seems to be going through a breakdown and yet it is Hitomi who we see experience the real pressure to succeed as she is also carefully watched, her performance monitored constantly. It felt suffocating at times.
Julia von Lucadou’s science fiction is close. Against the backdrop of the gleaming images used to portray this Orwellian city-state, the tragic moments of direct human encounters take on a dimension of clever criticism.Spiegel Online
The above quote says it all really. What Julia has done is created a dystopian story that is relatable and also quite unsettling in how possible it could be. She writes incredibly well, drawing you in and shining a light on the less savoury of human nature. It made me look at the seemingly harmless smart watch attached to my wrist, the webcams and devices that seem to monitor our every conservation and thought, predicting exactly what we need when we need. It is so close this world of Julia’s and it made me feel uneasy as I read, especially the moments where I was watching Hitomi watching Riva. Intimate moments too – this is no Gogglebox.
Yet I couldn’t stop reading, drawn in as I was to this carefully constructed world. The writing of this debut author is superb and this, along with the flawless translation by Sharmila Cohen, gives us a throughly engaging and beautifully written novel. The book design is also wonderful and I urge you to opt for a print copy if you can.
Thank you so much to Ann Cater for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and to the team at World Editions for sending me a stunning copy to review.
If you’re intrigued and would like to read this fantastic novel then please visit the publisher’s website for further details of where to buy. Just click here.
About the author
Julia von Lucadou
Julia von Lucadou was born in Heidelberg in 1982. She studied film and theatre at Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz and Victoria University of Wellington and earned her PhD in Film Studies in 2015. Lucadou worked as both an assistant director and a television editor prior to writing The High-Rise Diver, her debut novel, which was nominated for the Swiss Book Prize in 2018.
She lives between Biel, New York, and Cologne.
About the translator
Sharmila Cohen is an award-winning writer and German-to-English translator who has translated the works of several leading German-language authors. Her work has been featured in publications such as BOMB and Harpers, and her projects span from poetry and literary fiction to crime and children’s stories. Originally from New York, Cohen came to Berlin in 2011 as a Fulbright Scholar to complete an experimental translation project with local poets. She now divides her time between both cities.