Come Join Our Disease
By Sam Byers
A black comedy boldly diving into the cesspool that is social media and modern society, with gloriously nauseating results.
SHORTLISTED FOR THE GORDON BURN PRIZE 2021
From the author of Perfidious Albion, a darkly comic and profoundly affecting novel about resistance, radicalism and redemption.
Maya is homeless and living on an illegal encampment in London. The site is razed and Maya is detained, but then she learns that she has been chosen for a shot at redemption. She is offered a chance to be rehabilitated into society; to be given a job, a flat and an allowance - and to be become a polished, successful member of society. But she must document her progress on Instagram so that the tech company that is sponsoring her can gain corporate philanthropy points.
Trapped in a cycle of numbing work and mindless self-improvement, Maya begins to understand why alienation from society results from a culture of being 'perfect'. Feeling feverishly ill after a weekend detox retreat, she realises that sickness is an escape from unattainable ideals. With Zelma, an unemployed woman who she meets at the doctor's, Maya begins to resist; first by defacing adverts that promote impossible wellness, and then subverting her Instagram account into one of images of her own filth and defecation.
Once again excluded from productive society, Maya finds liberation in an alternative community of women who celebrate a lifestyle of debauchery, unchecked consumption, ugliness, illness and decay. But conflict within the group builds, and controversy grows outside, and Maya is caught by the forces she has unleashed: liberation and madness, protest and anarchy, rebellion and chaos. Come Join Our Disease is a book about freedom, and how much of it any of us can truly withstand.
Read if you: want to test how strong your stomach is, without visiting a doctor.