A pandemic has devastated the planet, sorting humanity into two types: the uninfected and the infected, the living and the living dead. The worst of the plague is now past, and Manhattan is slowly being resettled. Armed forces have successfully reclaimed the island south of Canal Street – aka ‘Zone One’ and teams of civilian volunteers are clearing out the remaining infected ‘stragglers’.
Mark Spitz is a member of one of these taskforces and over three surreal days he undertakes the mundane mission of malfunctioning zombie removal, the rigours of Post-Apocalyptic Stress Disorder, and attempting to come to terms with a fallen world.
But then things start to go terribly wrong…
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When I finished reading this exhilarating, heartbreaking book, I realised that, in fact, I'd just read one of the best literary novels of the year - Scotland on Sunday
Profoundly thoughtful... Zone One is a dark mirror, to be sure, but there is no doubt it is our own age that is being scrutinised here - New Statesman
Punchy cocktail of horror, comedy and social critique - Metro
A dark futuristic satire laced with fiendish humour - The Times
Often simultaneously arch and sombre, Whitehead's narrative flares with a sociological intelligence - Daily Telegraph
What Whitehead does really well is anchor his apocalypse in the small, heartbreaking details of everyday humanity, giving his end-of-days a bleak, sad humour that is all its own - Sunday Times
The zombie sub-genre is all the rage, but Zone One elevates the popular trope with its harrowing tale of life, loss and hope in a post-zombie apocalypse Manhattan. As satirical and gut-wrenchingly emotional as it is horrific, Zone One is the zombie tale at its literary best - SciFi Now
It's tense, suspenseful and terrifying... Yet, he's also very funny at times and anyone who has ever had dealings with a HR department will appreciate his asides at the zombies in personnel - Irish Independent
Whitehead's witty spin on the zombie apocalypse is an enjoyable read and is highly recommended - Zombies and Toys
It's monochromatically unsettling and blackly comic, as any zombie-related fiction should be. It's also one of the most gut-wrenchingly emotional reads of the year, with tragedy complex and inevitable enough to be Shakespearian... the tension is through the roof. The humour is perfectly pitched... He uses the entire situation to skewer and satirise... But where Zone One truly flourishes is in its depiction of the heartbreaking loss; loss of the chance to be simply mundane, loss of a perfectly formed stronghold and the relationships built up within. At moments like these, the book is quite startlingly, heartbreakingly beautiful, regardless of the subject matter... Whitehead's prose is engrossing, simultaneously verbose and casual enough to stroll off the page and shake your hand... even George A Romero would have to marvel at Zone One... what'll be more interesting is whether Whitehead will ever write anything as astounding as this again - SciFi Now
Colson Whitehead is the author of four previous novels, The Intuitionist, John Henry Days, Apex Hides the Hurt and Sag Harbor, as well as The Colossus of New York, a collection of essays. He is the recipient of numerous awards and has frequently hit the American bestseller lists. He lives in New York.