Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Sunrise at An Lac by Alex Rushton

Reviewer: JW Hicks

What we thought: This deeply moving imagining of how the world might end delivers not only the sternest of warnings, but also an enlightening hope of redemption.

This novel foretells the death of civilisation; the world ending not with a bang, but a prolonged, tormented whimper. It speaks to us, opens eyes to the reality of life today and the state of our world as seen through future, backward looking eyes. Reading it we see a world divided: on one hand are citizens whose only aim in life is hedonistic; on the other, the nons, the hurting scrabblers.

The world portrayed, our world, is one where sharing, where living with nature and not agin it, is anathema.

In this world, belief becomes fired into iron-hard conviction, forged into a weapon of war.

An Lac ashram is home to guru Ajahn Annando and his followers who live by Buddhist precepts: a self-sufficient lifestyle depending on sustainable resources. As the community grows, groups hive off into smaller groups, keeping to a sustainable size, pooling assets and sharing resources. Annando aims to establish a world of spiritual communities and foster the inner reality that lies in the heart of all true religions in a world dominated by consumerism, a world being destroyed by greed.

The greatest threat to An Lac is the rise of the New Islamists, who threaten forced acceptance of their interpretation of Mohammed’s preachings. This New Islam is spreading like wildfire, burning through Europe and threatening the peace of An Lac.

With an army advancing on their peaceful communities, Annando and his followers prepare for attack. It is Annando’s belief that on the battlefield there can be no victory, only suffering. This belief, bolstered by his certainty that killing is wrong, gives rise to the only solution possible – they have to remove their enemies will to fight.

The outcome of this clash of ideologies comes at the novel’s end, an ending I raced to read, an ending I found absolutely worthy of this tremendous book.

You’ll enjoy this if you like: Survivor by Octavia E Butler. Earth Abides by George R Stewart.

Avoid if you don’t like: Conflict, sexual scenes and merciless killing.

Ideal accompaniments: A pot of oolong loose leaf tea and cucumber sandwiches cut into triangles.

Genre: Post-apocalyptic novel

Alex Rushton has had a varied career as a design researcher, therapist, counsellor and psychologist among other roles. Further information can be found at her website:

Available from Amazon

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