Kenneth Steven's 2020 'depicts a bleak but uncomfortably familiar Britain'
- Rowena McIntosh
- 24 May 2017
Dystopian fiction set in the near future after a terrorist attack leads to heightened racial tension
Set a mere three years in the future, 2020 depicts a bleak but uncomfortably familiar Britain: a terrorist attack on a sleeper train shakes the country, support for xenophobic groups and politicians is growing, and racial tensions are becoming violent.
In Steven's novel, there is no central character or perspective: instead we are privy to a secret hearing, where events surrounding the terrorist attack and subsequent fall out in the community of Sudburgh are communicated by a stream of different voices who offer a multitude of perspectives and opinions.
Despite the many unnamed characters, people are distinct, with brief first-person accounts artfully constructed to create fully-formed, interesting characters, despite the fact that only a handful, including the Prime Minister's private secretary and a police officer questioning the only surviving bomber, feature more than once. The tension is perfectly pitched, building from assaults glimpsed at night to full scale street violence and high profile kidnappings.
Surprisingly 2020 isn't a response to Brexit or Trump – the majority of the novel was written in 2015 – but it hammers home how easily a divided country can reach crisis point.
Out now ((Saraband)