Rise & Shine
by Patrick Allington
Scribe, $27.99 pb, 240 pp
‘What is the use of saying, “Peace, Peace” when there is no peace below the diaphragm?’ asks Chinese writer Lin Yutang in The Importance of Living (1937). The subject of food and its manifestations – sustenance, communion, gluttony, longing – has claimed a place in the books of every era and genre, from heavenly manna in the Book of Exodus to starving gladiators in Suzanne Collins’s multi-billion-dollar The Hunger Games franchise. Writers as varied as Marcel Proust and Margaret Atwood have prioritised this theme in their work.
So it is with Patrick Allington’s second novel, Rise & Shine, set thirty-four years after a global catastrophe that demarcates the Old Time from the New Time. In a world where plant and animal life are distant memories and rain is toxic, humanity’s tumour-ridden survivors feed on war footage, screened daily from ubiquitous autoscreens. Their leaders, Walker and Barton, have found a means to feed the people that relies on their being moved by human suffering.