Severance|Ling Ma
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Maybe it's the end of the world, but not for Candace Chen, a millennial, first-generation American and office drone meandering her way into adulthood in Ling Ma's offbeat, wryly funny, apocalyptic satire, Severance.

A stunning, audacious book with a fresh take on both office politics and what the apocalypse might bring. --Michael Schaub,

"A satirical spin on the end times-- kind of like The Office meets The Leftovers." --Estelle Tang, Elle

NAMED A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR BY: NPR * The New Yorker (Books We Loved) * Elle * Marie Claire * Amazon Editors * The Paris Review (Staff Favorites) * Refinery29 * Bustle * Buzzfeed * BookPage * Bookish * Mental Floss * Chicago Review of Books * HuffPost * Electric Literature * A.V. Club * Jezebel * Vulture * Literary Hub * Flavorwire

Winner of the NYPL Young Lions Fiction Award * Winner of the Kirkus Prize for Fiction * Winner of the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award * Finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Novel * A New York Times Notable Book of 2018 * An Indie Next Selection

Candace Chen, a millennial drone self-sequestered in a Manhattan office tower, is devoted to routine. With the recent passing of her Chinese immigrant parents, she's had her fill of uncertainty. She's content just to carry on: She goes to work, troubleshoots the teen-targeted Gemstone Bible, watches movies in a Greenpoint basement with her boyfriend.

So Candace barely notices when a plague of biblical proportions sweeps New York. Then Shen Fever spreads. Families flee. Companies cease operations. The subways screech to a halt. Her bosses enlist her as part of a dwindling skeleton crew with a big end-date payoff. Soon entirely alone, still unfevered, she photographs the eerie, abandoned city as the anonymous blogger NY Ghost.

Candace won't be able to make it on her own forever, though. Enter a group of survivors, led by the power-hungry IT tech Bob. They're traveling to a place called the Facility, where, Bob promises, they will have everything they need to start society anew. But Candace is carrying a secret she knows Bob will exploit. Should she escape from her rescuers?

A send-up and takedown of the rituals, routines, and missed opportunities of contemporary life, Ling Ma's Severance is a moving family story, a quirky coming-of-adulthood tale, and a hilarious, deadpan satire. Most important, it's a heartfelt tribute to the connections that drive us to do more than survive.


  • ISBN-13: 9781250214997
  • ISBN-10: 1250214998
  • Publisher: Picador USA
  • Publish Date: May 2019
  • Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.56 pounds
  • Page Count: 304

Book Clubs: May 2019

Sheila Heti’s brave, unflinching novel Motherhood tells the story of one woman’s indecision about having children. The book’s unnamed narrator, a writer approaching the age of 40, is surrounded by friends who are starting families. She lives in Toronto with Miles, her boyfriend, who has a daughter from another relationship. In the midst of this domesticity, she’s plagued by uncertainty about reproducing. She’s honest about her ambivalence but fearful that she’ll one day regret not having kids of her own. Heti combines poignant first-person storytelling with a compassionate consideration of the traditions and implications of motherhood. The novel is a rich meditation on society’s expectations, personal agency and the evolving roles of women. Selected as a best book of 2018 by the New York Times and NPR, this provocative novel is sure to resonate with female readers, regardless of parental status.

Transcription by Kate Atkinson
Enlisted by England’s MI5 at the age of 18, Juliet Armstrong becomes enmeshed in a web of espionage and betrayal that will haunt her for a lifetime in Atkinson’s thrilling World War II novel.

The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner
When Romy Hall kills her stalker, she gets slapped with two life sentences. The story of her transition to life in a California correctional facility makes for a riveting read in Kushner’s latest novel.

Severance by Ling Ma
In Ma’s haunting, satirical take on the apocalypse, a young Chinese-American woman continues to live and work in Manhattan despite a fever that spreads across the globe and turns victims into zombies.

There There by Tommy Orange
Orange’s impressive debut chronicles the struggles and triumphs of 12 Native American characters in California, offering a complex, compelling look at contemporary Native life.