The Hope is a vast ocean liner, five miles long and two miles wide and one mile high, which lurches through the waves on a voyage to nowhere, carrying a million passengers in her rusting belly. After some thirty years at sea, everyone aboard her has gone just a little bit loopy, and violent death has become a way of life. All sorts of horrors lurk in the ship’s darkest corners — rumours made flesh, unspeakable creatures, peripheral-vision insanities. The only certainty is this: the Hope, which was once a multimillionaire philanthropist’s dream, has become a floating nightmare.
Believe it or not, I had the idea for the book while on a cross-Channel ferry, coming back from a holiday in France. It struck me that here, with all these shops and cabins and casinos and cinemas, was a seagoing city — so what if there was a ship like this actually as large as a city? (This was thirteen years ago. During the past decade, such boats have been built.) Back then, I was also deeply concerned about environmental degradation — I still am, but no longer to the point of morbidity — and so my big-ship idea seemed the perfect vehicle for a doomy eco-fable about humankind’s unfailing ability to ruin its surroundings. The connected short-story format came about simply because I didn’t have the confidence to write a full-length novel. In the event, the stories emerged exactly in the sequence in which they appear, and a larger narrative took shape by itself in the course of the writing, giving the book a unifying plot arc that, to me, more than qualifies it to be described as a novel.
The Hope prompted that august journal The Mail on Sunday to nominate me as one of ten first-time novelists to watch in the 1990s (the only other one you may have heard of was Hanif Kureishi).
- The Hope [Gollancz (reissued ed.), June 2002] – ISBN 978-1857988024
- “As an allegory of late-20th-century existence, it catches admirably the rust, waste and putrescence of consumer ideals. I am glad to think that the 1990s will be decorated by more of Mr Lovegrove’s fiction” – The Spectator
- “Lovegrove’s controlled writing… the words accurate as assassin’s bullets… is the book’s best argument against the anarchy of the unleashed future that is depicted so vividly in this first and fierce effort” – The Sunday Times
- “Very gutsy first work with tremendous spark and imagination” – The Daily Telegraph
- “It is a gruesome, Gothic masterpiece” – Bradford Telegraph and Argus
- “James Lovegrove has terrific verve, imagination and style and will clearly make his mark” – Alan Sillitoe
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• Filed under Books • 08/01/1990 •