Review: The World Keeps Ending, and the World Goes on - Franny Choi
Published: Ecco Press, November 2022
My rating: 3.5/5 stars
"By the time the apocalypse began, the world had already ended."
Many have called our time dystopian. But The World Keeps Ending, and the World Goes On reminds us that apocalypse has already come in myriad ways for marginalized peoples and calls us to imagine what will persist in the aftermaths.
With lyric and tonal dexterity, these poems spin backwards and forwards in time. They look into the collective psyche of our years in the pandemic and in the throes of anti-racist uprisings, while imagining other vectors, directions, and futures. Stories of survival collide across space and time--from Korean comfort women during World War II to children wandering a museum in the future. These poems explore narrative distances and queer linearity, investigating on microscopic scales before soaring towards the universal. Throughout, Choi grapples with where the individual fits within the strange landscapes of this apocalyptic world, with its violent and many-layered histories. In the process, she imagines what togetherness--between Black and Asian and other marginalized communities, between living organisms, between children of calamity and conquest--could look like. Bringing together Choi's signature speculative imagination with even greater musicality than her previous work, The World Keeps Ending, and the World Goes On ultimately charts new paths toward hope.
This collection of modern poems holds some beautiful imagery and wordplay, but it ultimately didn't connect with me in the way I wanted it to. It tackles some important and current topics like the pandemic, political instability (specifically in the US), climate change and feminism but plays it rather safe with many of them. I overall found myself "easily agreeing" with much of it, but nothing more. No boundaries were pushed, no thoughts were being challenged, leaving me with a collection that was good, but not as memorable as I'd like it to be.
You can find this book here on Goodreads.