What if there were one perfect place on the planet: a place without sickness, hunger, work, or worry? How would the rest of the world respond to that perfection? In The Year We Finally Solved Everything, author Rudolf Kerkhoven attempts to answer these questions – and I think he comes pretty close to the truth.
Richard, the narrator of the novel, lives in
Canada, but he could really be in any city across North America. Perfection has been discovered in the form of Shan Won, a small island nation off the coast of . Shan Won’s perfection is simultaneously attracting people from all over the world and destroying the lives of those who don’t want to go. As the world around him swirls into destruction, Richard seeks to become one of the Disappeared – the world’s name for those who leave everything behind for Shan Won. China
The sparseness of Mr. Kerkhoven’s dialogue struck me as uniquely effective, with simple spoken sentences frequently followed by long but readable passages describing the speaker or the setting. His descriptions are so vivid that I had no problem seeing through Richard’s eyes. My one complaint is the apparently random use of commas throughout the novel – sometimes they are there when they shouldn’t be, and vice-versa.
In the end, this reader was left saddened but not surprised by the world’s reaction to Shan Won. But what is life when we have nothing left to strive for? The Year We Finally Solved Everything will make you ask that question and many more.