Severance

By Ling Ma,

Book cover of Severance

Book description

Maybe it’s the end of the world, but not for Candace Chen, a millennial, first-generation American and office drone meandering her way into adulthood in Ling Ma’s offbeat, wryly funny, apocalyptic satire, Severance.

"A stunning, audacious book with a fresh take on both office politics and what the apocalypse might…


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Why read it?

4 authors picked Severance as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Sometimes second chances come with a steep price, which, in Candace Chen’s case, means the apocalyptic annihilation of the world’s population. I wouldn’t call this book a pick-me-up, though it is funny, but it is an incredibly moving story about what it means to move on. Ling Ma moves her characters between time, writing about Candace’s parent's decision to leave behind China and her own decision to stay in New York as the deadly fever takes hold. Some of the most beautiful writing is about New York City, a place I dearly love. “New York is possibly the only…

As a fan of the post-apocalyptic genre, I’ve read a great many zombie novels over the years, but I can safely say that none stood out to me the way Severance by Ling Ma did. As Shen Fever overruns the world, turning people into zombies stuck in repetitive tasks from their human lives, Candace Chen reluctantly leaves her office job to search for safety among a group of survivors. Most zombie books ask what one would do when faced with zombies. Written in a literary style and exploring a range of topics including consumerism and the immigrant experience, this book…

From L.J.'s list on post-apocalyptic by female authors.

When I first read the synopsis for Severance, the concept seemed similar to my book, Past This Point and I got a little nervous since it was released several months before mine. A self-sequestered NYC woman, Candace, who’s dealing with the grief of her parent's recent passing, ends up one of the only survivors of a deadly virus. Sounds like my main character. So, of course, I had to read it. But I shouldn’t have worried because the rest of the novel is very different. Candace goes on to create a blog called NY Ghost where she photographs the abandoned…

From Nicole's list on that predicted the pandemic.

Severance is the eeriest book of the bunch, and it uses the conceit of the pandemic to examine capitalism and its ills—among them, enforced solitude and chronic loneliness. In 2020, we all learned something about the loneliness of quarantine, and I found this novel to be a wise companion.

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