- Hardcover: 448 pages
- Publisher: Canongate Books; Main edition (20 May 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 184767089X
- ISBN-13: 978-1847670892
- Product Dimensions: 14.1 x 3.4 x 24.1 cm
- Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 487,130 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Our Tragic Universe Hardcover – 20 May 2010
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"A delight, not least for the quality of Scarlett Thomas's writing... Full of life and energy." (Philip Pullman)
"Ingenious and original. A cracking good yarn, fizzing with intelligence" (Philip Pullman on The End of Mr. Y)
"Our Tragic Universe surprised me, and in such a terrific way. It is so addictive, you can't help but fall deeper and deeper under Scarlett Thomas's spell. She's a genius." (Douglas Coupland)
"Richly allusive, freewheeling and enormously satisfying" (Independent on Sunday on The End of Mr. Y)
"Immensely bright and very much on the cutting edge" (Guardian on The End of Mr. Y)
"A masterpiece... A brilliant and engaging story that makes you rethink the nature of existence and the true structure of the world" (Douglas Coupland on The End of Mr. Y)
"Thomas has the mesmerising power of a great story teller - even if you're not always sure what she's telling you is a story." (Jake Kerridge Finacial Times)
"[Thomas's] great asset is a mad grab-bag of a mind whose imprint on the novel leaves it brimming with ideas . . . for those who like their fiction 'meta', this is a veriegated delight." (Time Out)
"[Our Tragic Universe] is a novel that fizzes with ideas . . . And if you've never read a Thomas novel then let's be clear: the ideas are big." (Claire Black Scotland on Sunday)
"Thomas can discuss quantum physics and philosophy while making you think you're reading a sparkling romantic comedy." (Kate Saunders The Times)
"By virtue of her intellect and playfulness, Thomas now seems to belong in the same school as Borges and Kundera." (Stephen Phelan Scottish Review of Books (Vol 6))
"Is it odd to describe a book as kind? The commodity itself seems an increasingly rare thing in an internet-frazzled world, and so how unexpectedly wonderful to read Scarlett Thomas's Our Tragic Universe, a book that brims with a compassion and warmth." (Patrick Ness The Guardian)
"Our brains hurt - in a good way - as we read Scarlett Thomas's smarty-pants new novel about time travel, the shape of the universe and possibly the Cottingly fairies." (The Herald Magazine)
"This is a novel of big ideas, with an engaging and identifiable central character, which will appeal to David Mitchell fans." (David Wood Waterstone's Books Quarterly)
"Thomas . . . a lively writer with a great eye for detail . . . once again excels at handling heavy topics lightly." (Alice Fisher The Observer)
"Our Tragic Universe is a huge, ambitious experiment, carried out by one of the finest minds of her generation." (SFX Magazine)
"A clever piece of metafiction." (The Melbourne Age)
The brilliant new mind-frazzling adventure from the author of the 150,000 copy-selling The End of Mr. YSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
I guess you could say of any novel ever written that it is 'not for everyone', but I think that's true of 'Our Tragic Universe' in a deeper fashion than it is for just about any other book I've ever read. Personally I loved it - I loved the way the narrative bounced between esoteric ideas such as the Cottingley Fairies that so haunted Conan Doyle one minute and then the meaning of Tarot cards the next; all interspersed with thoughts on the difficult nature of human relationships, the importance of friends and the desire to find your own place in the universe.
One of the key themes of the novel is that stories don't have to have a narrative, they don't need to have a beginning, a middle and an end. Since many aspects of life dribble vaguely onwards towards no readily discernable goal why should a novel be burdened with the need to tell a story?Read more ›
I can't put my finger on why I liked this book as much as I did. I think it's all down to the author's writing style, her sympathetic heroine and an intriguing, if unfathomable story, which did keep me interested throughout, despite the philosophical parts that didn't mean a great deal to me.
A worthy follow up to The End of Mr Y in my opinion. I'll definitely read more of Scarlett Thomas's work.
Here's an example:
"The great Taoist master Chuang Tzu once dreamt that he was a butterfly fluttering here and there. In the dream he had no awareness of his individuality as a person. He was only a butterfly. Suddenly, he awoke and found himself laying there, a person once again. But then he thought to himself, "Was I before a man who dreamt about being a butterfly, or am I now a butterfly who dreams about being a man?" *
This story, one of the less cryptic ones, provokes less frustration than most from readers. Some people see it as mere philosophical babble, others that he was reflecting upon how we interpret our reality, and the way that time is experienced - if butterflies live for only a short time, then how can the span of our lives fit into a dream it has?
The point of the story is to offer an object to meditate upon,, rather than a simple narrative to listen to.
Many people will find 'Our Tragic Universe' similarly frustrating, because it has a very different subject to her previous book, which was, to me, about science (which by it's very nature categorises everything). Here, she categorises very little, but leaves things to the reader to decide.Read more ›
The cover and book design are gorgeous and after quoting Nietsche, Plato and Chekhov, the first sentence in the book is now one of my favourite opening sentences:
"I was reading about how to survive the end of the universe when I got a text message from my friend Libby."
Meg is an impoverished writer in an unhappy relationship. She should be writing her great masterpiece but instead is paying the bills by writing bad genre fiction and reviewing books for the local newspaper.
I enjoyed this book immensely but one reason for me taking so long to write this review is that I struggled to pin down what this book is actually about and how to review it. There are various subplots; Meg's failing relationship with her partner Christopher, her attraction to an older man, her continued attempts to write her book, the strange book she reviews about how to survive the end of the universe. But I think the main theme of the book is stories and narrative. The question of whether a storyless story can exist is discussed several times.
Like her previous books, I feel like Scarlett Thomas is writing about more than I can understand but despite that (and perhaps because of it) I always enjoy getting immersed in her worlds and characters.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is not a fast paced thriller but a gentle paced muse on writing, the end of the universe, new age thinking, relationships and knitting socks
It will I think never be as... Read more
I just finished this and can't wait to read it again. I found it hard to put down. I've read most of Scarlett Thomas' books but this one has a new feel to it. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Angela
Having thoroughly enjoyed Ms Thomas' 'The End of Mr Y' and 'PopCo' I couldn't wait to get stuck into this book and I will say immediately that I found it as least as enjoyable as... Read morePublished 23 months ago by I.Cifatsum
A lovely rambling attempt at the storyless story. Extremely well written and thought out. I should like to see from the author more Tristram Shandy and maybe Nolan stuff and... Read morePublished on 9 July 2014 by Une Soirée De La Sémiotique
I see that Scarlet Thomas divides readers. I'm not sure why the reactions are quite so strong. There is an implication in some reviews that to enjoy her writing you might have to... Read morePublished on 6 April 2014 by PDG
The blurb on the reverse of this book intrigued me - but the reading of this book did not!!! What a waste of time. Read morePublished on 17 Jan. 2014 by booboo
I'm a huge Scarlett Thomas fan. I really like this book. Like her other books this is as well clever and well written. I like 'The End of Mr. Read morePublished on 22 Jun. 2013 by Jayne Jensen
After loving its two immediate predecessors; `Popco' and `The End of Mr Y' I had great hopes for `Our Tragic Universe': alas, to no avail. Read morePublished on 14 Jan. 2013 by still searching