by Thomas M. Disch

Set 50 years into the future in New York, technocrats and administrators have alleviated the ills of economic deprivation. But in this "paradise" of harmonious life, there seems a sense of spiritual alienation. The residents at 334--a huge and anonymous apartment complex--give us a vivid, humorous and disturbing view of what the future holds.

If Charles Dickens has written speculative fiction, he might have created a novel as intricate, passionate, and lacerating as Thomas M. Disch's visionary portrait of the underbelly of 21st-century New York City. The residents of the public housing project at 334 East 11th Street live in a world of rationed babied and sanctioned drug addiction. Real food is displayed in museums and hospital attendants moonlight as body-snatchers.

Nimbly hopscotching backward and forward in time, Disch charts the shifting relationships between this world's inheritors: an aging matriarch who falls in love with her young social worker; a widow seeking comfort from the spirit of her dead husband; a privileged preteen choreographing the perfectly gratuitous murder. Poisonously funny, piercingly authentic, 344 is a masterpiece of social realism disguised as science fiction.

First Published: 1972

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ISBN: 9780261632837      ISBN 10: 0261632833
Publisher: MacGibbon & Kee  1972

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