The Damage Done by Michael Landweber Review
Have you ever imagined what the world would be like without violence? Michael Landweber has given it a lot of thought.
In this novel, violence is no longer possible. The rules for this require a suspension of belief. It’s basically just magic that defies physics and logic. We’re introduced to a diverse cast of characters as they navigate this new world.
There’s Dab, a bullied middle schooler questioning his sexuality; Marcus, a young black teenager whose older brother is the last victim of violence; Ann, a social worker with an abusive, villainous husband. Richard, a professor whose early life is shaped by violence; Gabriela and Cristela, two sisters fleeing violence in El Salvador and attempting a dangerous migration into the United States; a North Korean writer called The Empty Shell who is waiting to be tortured in prison; and Julien, a white supremacist planning a mass killing.
We also get vignettes from the perspective of the president, the pope, and others. There are so many characters that it’s hard to truly connect with all of them. In order to fit all of their stories, they all feel a bit rushed.
I appreciated the author’s attempts to include all of these perspectives, but I didn’t find them all to be necessary. For example, there’s a brief chapter on two fishermen that doesn’t really connect to the rest of the book and didn’t really add anything to the story.
The idea of a world where violence is impossible is an interesting concept and Landweber is skilled at imagining it, I just wish the book had been a little more focused.