All of a sudden, I'm desperate to read Junot Diaz's new science fiction novel — just as soon as he can finish it. Diaz, who just won the Pulitzer Prize for The Brief And Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao, a book littered with nerdy references to Star Wars and comics, shared a brief excerpt from his new novel-in-progress, Dark America, during an Amazon.com interview. And's a dazzling passage, set aboard a robot truck in a desolate future world.
Diaz's character appears to be traveling, with a bunch of other Travelers, down a highway at night, but it's not clear where they're going or why. It's a pretty horrendous existence, that much is clear, and every now the transport stops at a depot and everyone "reforges". Here's the most jarring and futuristic passage:
Since the transport is automated it switches its lights on only when it detects another vehicle or when we're in civilization but at night on the interstates it feels like we're rushing through a corridor of whooshing air as unlit as a vein. We pass cities and zonafrancas and fortress towns and overhead roar fighter jets and gunships and every now and then the transport will squash something on the road. A rumble under the tires and then the return to the lullaby of the whoosh as whatever it is gets spat out behind the mud flaps in ruin.
I love the use of language in the full passage, the snow clotting, and the unlit vein. I hope I get to read the rest of this story. Diaz hints that it may just be "throat-clearing," and may not actually be in the novel. And also adds, "who knows when it will ever see the light of day again." Given how long it took him to finish Wao, I'm not optimistic. But fingers crossed. Post-apocalyptic freeway image by Voyou Desoeuvre. [Omnivoracious, via NY Mag]