The Last White Man

This book (affiliate link) was being promoted by my local council as part of a reading campaign. I’m not sure I would have picked it up otherwise, which, despite my misgivings, would have been a shame.

The story is about the world population spontaneously turning black, and the consequence and effects of that. It focuses on a few characters (Anders and Oona) and how it affects their lives.

The writing is unusual. I hesitate to say bad, because it’s very deliberate, but grating maybe? Each paragraph is effectively one long, run on sentence. I didn’t have the audio book, but I am curious how you’d read it without an inhuman pair of lungs.

This isn’t even the complete sentence.

… and he said it suits you too, and she said, really, and he said, really, and he added, you looked too hungry before, and she asked, and now I don’t, and he said, and now you don’t, and she smiled, and then she smiled again, her smile bigger and bigger.

The dialogue is quite convincing and some of the descriptions are beautiful, but I had a hard time seeing past the structure.

I was unconvinced by certain aspects of world changing. Not the idea of changing, which you obviously have to suspend your disbelief of, but the effects. The characters all assumed that the looks they received and the ways that they were perceived were entirely down to the fact they were no longer white. Is that fair? If you dramatically and overnight changed your appearance, would people not react?

For a short book, it took me a while to read but I’m glad I made it to the end.