Author: Kurt Vonnegut

Type: Fiction, novel

Published: 1985

I read it: April 2012


Galápagos takes the long view of humanity and combines heady ideas with small human absurdities in every scene. In anyone else’s hands the somewhat distant POV and seemingly blatant arbitrary asides could be a mistake, but Vonnegut pulls you through a slightly skewed modern world with both courage and ease. A small band of humans is destined to be stranded on the smallest island in the Galápagos chain and therefore sire the future of humankind, a species heretofore beleaguered by its “big brain,” the mantra of the book which highlights an evolutionary adaptation that has arguably done more harm than good. With commentary on everything from politics to biology to technology, all of it prescient, and a few risks–an omnipresent ghost narrator covering multiple eras, an asterisk in front of the names of characters who will die soon–pulled off with style, Vonnegut cuts cleanly into the human condition and folds it back for all to see. It really is one of those books about whose implications any given person could choose to laugh or cry.


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