A Cli-Fi debut novel about new motherhood, birth and renewal. As London is submerged below floodwaters, a woman gives birth to her first child, Z. Days later, she and her baby are forced to leave their home in search of safety. They head north through a newly dangerous country seeking refuge from place to place. The story traces fear and wonder as the baby grows, thriving and content against all the odds.
...[a] spare, stylish debut ... Hunter’s mordant, undeceived narrator alludes to checkpoints, stampedes, and shortages but the peril is largely impressionistic, obscured by the ordinary life miraculously unfolding in front of her eyes: first smile, first tooth, first step. There are delightfully granular observations of babies, as her son first tries to roll over and his efforts look 'like someone trying to turn over a car with their bare hands.' But the real strength of this wonderfully earthy novel is in its sharpened lens on motherhood’s apocalyptic-feeling joys and terrors, and how they can form an all-encompassing world.
With the sparest of prose, debut author Megan Hunter creates a riveting story told by a mother navigating a monumental catastrophe with the most fragile of life carried at her breast ... Building on our natural fear of the unknown, Hunter leaves unspoken much of what’s truly haunting in the tale—but the rising horrors of civilization’s breakdown are perceived nonetheless ... In the wake of recent weather crises and flooding around the globe, Hunter’s writing on the human impact of climate change charges this slim poetic work of fiction with powerful dystopian weight. From refuge to redemption, from retreat to recovery, The End We Start From is an exquisite paean to how we come back from the times that challenge us all.
...the extremity of the setting powers the novel’s central metaphor at the same time as throwing the repetitions and revelations of parenting into sharp relief ... If motherhood now has its own literary subgenre, the same is true of climate-change catastrophe...Hunter sees both subjects afresh, through a sharp eye for detail that is both undeceived and faintly amused, and through the extreme spareness of her narration: the story proceeds in snatches, like a series of stepping stones across the blank expanse of an unknown future ... Hunter walks a fine line, stylistically speaking, between the spare and the sketchy, the profound and the perfunctory. Italicised interludes based on various creation myths are not developed or differentiated enough from the main narrative to work as symbolic counterpoint ... The End We Start From is an effective, unusual and ambitious debut, which keeps the reader pinned to the page: but next time I’d love to see Hunter expand on her aphorisms, and start to fill in some of the gaps.