Interesting, and completely accidental, juxtaposition of novels this week. The linking theme being voice, or lack of it.
Vox explores an imagined USA from the not-too-distant future where power is held by a group of white males led by a cruel and tyrannical evangelical Christian minister. Separating out those who are 'pure' the gay, ethnic minorities and women are all marginalised. For women it's not quite Stepford. No-one has yet pioneered the surgery necessary to bring that about. So women are required to wear a bracelet which delivers a short, sharp shock if they say more than 100 words a day.
It's pretty frightening, given the state of the current Christian right in the USA. The interesting premise develops into a classic thriller and the last 100 pages pass quickly.
In Pew a sleepy US town is visited by one who doesn't speak, named by the locals after the place this stranger is found spending a night. The desire to be hospitable, in this place of Christian principles, to a struggling newcomer is tested by the lack of communication. How can we know how to help you if you don't tell us your story? Is the muteness a preference? Is it post-trauma? Or something more sinister?
In Christina Dalcher and Catherine Lacey we have two novelists right on top of their game and two interesting approaches to the necessity of language.