The Mark by Fríða Ísberg

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The Mark by Fríða Ísberg, Translated by Larissa Kyzer
English | 2024 | Science Fiction

In the near future, in Reykjavík, in a world like our own, society is divided about the controversial Empathy Test, which measures an individual’s capacity for compassion and identifies anti-social behaviour in citizens. Two thirds of the country, including public servants and politicians, have undergone the test, and ‘marked’ themselves in an official register, open to the public. One third remains ‘unmarked’ and more and more private and public spaces are closing their doors to them. In two months’ time, citizens face a national referendum, in which they will vote on whether the test should be mandatory or not.

Amid the rising tension and via the voices of four compelling characters—the sceptical teacher Vetur, the influential psychologist Óli, the businesswoman Eyja, who fails the test, and the school dropout Tristan, who is fighting for the right not to be tested—we are confronted with urgent ethical dilemmas, prejudice, injustice, and private trauma. The suspense intensifies as these four individuals try to navigate a brave new world. The rules of the game have changed. What are the consequences?

For fans of Black Mirror, or readers of the novels of Jennifer Egan and Naomi Alderman, The Mark is a brilliant, topical novel by an exciting new writer. Fríða Ísberg’s book asks: do we want to live in a world defined by our faith in each other, or by our fear of the future.

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