Jim Shepard is a fiction writer of peculiar but tantalizing gifts.
If you've been waiting for the great novel of the COVID-19 era, it's in your hands. I read Phase Six with a galloping heart. With heroic humor and a poet's ear and eye for what makes humanity worth saving, Shepard's polyphonic novel of contagion and collapse is also the story of love's unlikely survival in the most hostile conditions
Jim Shepard not only writes at the cutting edge of literature, but he IS the cutting edge of literature. He excavates the twin crises of our era-climate change and pathogens-and builds a story that is as poignant as it is true. The writing is stunning. The research is stunning. The after-effect is stunning. Phase Six is a great book for our times: the past, the present and those that-we hope-are yet to come.
No amount of prior admiration for Jim Shepard's fiction prepared me for the magnificent Phase Six-a book at once so wise and so funny, so bleak and so tender. With astonishing virtuosity, he conveys huge amounts of information in a way that is not only lucid but utterly gripping, and he creates characters who make me want to rush into the novel to save them from the virus and themselves. What a triumph!
Imagining catastrophe is, now more than ever, an essential task, and no one does it better than Jim Shepard. At once scary and timely, funny and absorbing, Phase Six is a must-read.
Paced like a prophetic thriller . . . Shepard has frequently employed research as a foundation for his literary creations, but never before in such pulse-racing fashion . . . Readers will find themselves in territory that feels eerily familiar-panic, politics, uncertainty, fear, a resistance to quarantine, an overload of media noise-as Shepard's command of tone never lets the tension ease . . . All the narrative propulsion of escapist fiction without the escape.