The Heavens is Sandra Newman’s eighth book. It follows novels featuring, variously, sex addiction, Buddhism and a post-apocalyptic teen dystopia; a memoir; a handbook on how not to write a novel; and two irreverently erudite guides to the canon. The variety of these accomplishments indicates Newman’s roving and playful intelligence, together with a kind of wilful unpredictability and a deep engagement with literary forms and traditions. These qualities have attained a sublime height in The Heavens, a work of remarkable skill and invention, linguistic brio and righteous political intent, and one which gleefully defies categorisation.
‘Ben met Kate at a rich girl’s party,’ the novel begins. New York: August, the year 2000, solar-powered tea-lights on the terrace.