Lookin’ Good: The Alteration by Kingsley Amis

TheAlterationYes, I know doing a Lookin’ Good post for a novel that was originally published more than 35 years ago may seem a bit odd, but the forthcoming new edition of The Alteration by Kingsley Amis looks just lovely. This novel, which I somehow never read, looks almost tailor-made for me.

From the publisher:

In Kingsley Amis’s virtuoso foray into alternate history, it is 1976 but the modern world is a medieval relic, frozen in intellectual and spiritual time ever since Martin Luther was promoted to pope back in the sixteenth century. Stephen the Third, the king of England, has just died, and Mass (Mozart’s second requiem) is about to be sung to lay him to rest. In the choir is our hero, Hubert Anvil, an extremely ordinary ten-year-old boy with a faultless voice. In the audience is a select group of experts whose job is to determine whether that faultless voice should be preserved by performing a certain operation. After all, any sacrifice is worth it for the perfection of art.

How Hubert realizes what lies in store for him and how he deals with the whirlpool of piety, menace, terror, and passion that he soon finds himself in are the subject of a classic piece of counterfactual fiction to equal Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle.

This edition of The Alteration, due out on May 7th from NYRB, also features a new introduction by William Gibson.

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