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The World of the End
by Ofir Touche Gafla
Tor, $24.99, 365pp
Release Date: June 25, 2013
The end of life is not the end of the world: it’s just your transition to the world of the end.

The Other World is remarkable similar to the life you’ve left, only now you won’t gain weight if you eat all your favorite foods. Forgiveness is universal, but people can still make themselves damned miserable.

Ben would be perfectly happy to be dead if he could just find his beloved wife Marian – after all, he committed suicide to be with her again after her untimely, accidental death. But in spite of all the resources for finding the ones you’ve loved and lost and are looking for – everything from relatives (including in-laws) to Human Resources’ computer records, and a private eye who bursts into uncontrollable giggles any time he hears a lie – Ben is striking out. What has become of Marian?

Ben’s quest is complicated by encounters with other souls: Robert, who has been obsessively waiting outside the processing area for arriving souls for ten years; a former girlfriend who shows him how to almost fly; and a man who is not quite dead, but coma status is close enough to dead for souls to spend time in the Other World. Each of these souls makes different choices, showing us, and Ben, not only the scope of free will, but how we impose limits and force our version of reality on the world.

Ben never knew it, but someone had fallen in love with him during that final year of life. Her story is also told, and it is even more bizarre than Ben’s, fraught with humor, horror, pathos, mistaken identities, and bad timing. And throughout the double narrative a mystery unfolds, as two souls try to find each other across an abyss bridged by the internet and a shared passion for the literature of Salman Rushdie.

Gafla’s writing style is somewhat like Jasper Fforde’s with his wonderful Thursday Next series. If you love comedy laced with tragedy (or vice-versa), if you appreciate unusual, provoking, sublime storylines with a twist, this is the book for you. ~~ Chris R. Paige

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