Something New Under the Sun: part eco-horror story, part Californian noir

Review: Alexandra Kleeman chills with an original, acerbic novel about a near-future apocalypse

A takedown of the greed and superficiality of the film industry is only one strand of Alexandra Kleeman’s multifaceted book

A takedown of the greed and superficiality of the film industry is only one strand of Alexandra Kleeman’s multifaceted book

In an RTÉ documentary earlier this year, Colm Tóibín: On Memory’s Shore, the Wexford author spoke about the successful film adaptation of his Booker-nominated novel Brooklyn. He told a funny and self-deprecating anecdote about his less than illustrious pass to the Oscars, which saw him seated towards the back, as the mere author of the source material. That same year at the awards, Emma Donoghue was further up the front as both the author and a credited screenwriter of Room.

The way in which Hollywood treats authors makes for some great satirical scenes in Alexandra Kleeman’s second novel, Something New Under the Sun. When the New York novelist Patrick Hamlin arrives in LA to work on a film adaptation of his autobiographical novel Elsinore Lane, he proudly announces to a group of production assistants that he’s the writer. “Screenwriter?” responds Dillon, one of the PAs, quickly bursting a bubble that had little chance of lasting anyway in the parched, decaying landscape of Kleeman’s near-future California. 

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