Generation A

by Douglas Coupland

In 1991 Canadian writer (albeit born on a NATO base in Germany) Douglas Coupland wrote his debut novel Generation X. With it he managed to not merely tap into the social zeitgeist of the period, but become a human conductor of it, channelling the moods and feelings of a generation throughout its pages.

Douglas Coupland - Generation A

Twelve novels later, Coupland has written a suitable bookend to his highly tuned, über-observant canon of work to date.

It’s the near future. Quite possibly nearer than we think. All the bees have buzzed off. The ramifications of this are greater than simply not having honey on the breakfast table anymore. Then, one by one, five very different people, scattered around the globe, are stung by bees. These events are treated as major news, with the individuals treated like celebrities. But questions remains – what’s so special about this particular group? And why did the bees return, just for them?

Anyone who has read a Coupland novel before, won’t be disappointed here. He has created a bunch of characters, all with their own distinct voice. Not only that, but what they have to say is an entertaining read to boot.

The only time it feels a little sluggish is towards the end, when he introduces a short story element to proceedings. In the grand scheme of things, their inclusion is relevant, but there feels like there’s more than just one too many of them.

The story could have so easily become this highly convoluted tale, leaving the reader to scratch their head with the turn of every page. Thankfully though, Coupland has a knack of storytelling that involves his characters not only explaining the story though their own voices, but also furthering it.

The only real criticism that exists is that the ending is a bit of a let down. After doing such a swell job getting the reader to that point, its conclusion feels flat and disappointing.

Still, Coupland’s style and vision and are all present in abundance, making this an enjoyable read for any generation.

three out of five