Lanark: A Life in Four Books by Alasdair Gray – Dystopian Books Review

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Lanark: A Life in Four Books by Alasdair Gray

Review and Summary of Lanark: A Life in Four Books

Lanark: A Life in Four Books is the first novel by Alasdair Gray. The most interesting thing about this novel is that the author wrote it over 30 years. The novel combines both reality and dystopia about the city of Glasgow.

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Author:   Alasdair Gray        

Genre: Dystopia                                                                                                                                                  

Pages: 560

Good reads rating: 4.10/5

My Rating: 8.20/10

Published: 1981

Publisher: Canongate Press

Language: English

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Review and Summary of Dystopian Novel Lanark: A Life in Four Books

***Warning Spoilers Below This Point*** ***Warning Spoilers Below This Point***

Lanark is a series which comprises four books. The author arranged these books in a sequence of three, one, two and then four. Also before book one, there is a prologue and after book four there are four chapters of an epilogue. The story starts in book three where a young man wakes up and finds himself alone in a train carriage. The man has forgotten everything in the past and adopts his name from a strange but familiar photograph on the wall of the carriage, Lanark.

This man arrives in Unthank, a city like Glasgow. They deprive this city of daylight and is unique because the residents keep on disappearing and are suffering from strange diseases. Lanark joins a group of twenty-something, but he cannot relate to them. He also starts developing a strange disease known as dragonhide in which his skin turns into scales because of his emotional repressions.

Later Lanark gets swallowed by a mouth on the earth and finds himself in a hospital where people are treated for their strange diseases, but they use the hopeless cases for gaining power and food. Lanark gets afraid of this and plans to leave the place. Book one and book two cover the story of bildungsroman in the pre-war period in Glasgow. The story revolves around Duncan Thaw, who is a different person, hence he finds difficulties including obstacles in forming relationships. He gets so frustrated that he ended up attempting suicide by drowning himself.

In book four, Lanark moves back to Unthank which is now not in a good state and is suffering from paranoia and economic meltdown. Despite his efforts, he cannot prevent the damage to Unthank. Time passes and the book ends when Lanark is seen sitting as an old man in the hilltop cemetery and Unthank breaks down an apocalypse, and it reveals the death time of Lanark to him.

Final Say on Dystopian Novel Lanark: A Life in Four Books

This book is different because of the strangely prepared approach. Everything which happens in the city of Unthank is a dystopia. The author Alasdair Gray, however, has portrayed the city and its demise in a very incredible manner. My rating of 8.2 is well-deserving because the description of the story is amazing. I will never regret reading this novel. Would I re-read this novel? No. Am I glad I read it? Yes.

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Max Atlas
Max Atlas
I am Max Atlas; my only mission is to raise awareness of Dystopian fiction and share in a collective awakening. Together we will explore not only the best Dystopian Novels ever written but also new and upcoming Authors, giving future greats a platform to share their Dystopian Worlds.