Kavanagh begins his life patrolling the Wall. If he's lucky, if nothing goes wrong, he only has two years of this, 729 more nights.
The best thing that can happen is that he survives and gets off the Wall and never has to spend another day of his life anywhere near it. He longs for this to be over; longs to be somewhere else.
He will soon find out what Defenders do and who the Others are. Along with the rest of his squad, he will endure cold and fear day after day, night after night. But somewhere, in the dark cave of his mind, he thinks: wouldn't it be interesting if something did happen, if they came, if you had to fight for your life?
John Lanchester's thrilling, hypnotic new novel is about why the young are right to hate the old. It's about a broken world you will recognise as your own-and about what might be found when all is lost.
John Lanchester is a contributing editor to the London Review of Books and a regular contributor to the New Yorker. He has written four novels, The Debt to Pleasure, Mr Phillips and Fragrant Harbour, and Capital, and three works of non-fiction: Family Romance, a memoir; and Whoops!: Why everyone owes everyone and no one can pay, about the global financial crisis and How to Speak Money, a primer in popular economics. His books have won the Hawthornden Prize, the Whitbread First Novel Prize, E.M Forster Award, and the Premi Llibreter, been longlisted for the Booker Prize, and been translated into twenty-five languages.