Perfect for fans of Ben Winters and Sarah Pinsker, violence is a thing of the past — but could new horrors lie in wait?
Imagine a world devoid of violence—a world where fists can’t hit, guns don’t kill, and bombs can’t destroy. In this tantalizing novel of possibility, this has become our new reality.
The U.S. president must find a new way to wage war. The Pope ponders whether the Commandment “Thou Shalt Not Kill” is still relevant. A dictator takes his own life after realizing that the violence he used to control his people is no longer an option.
In the first days after the change, seven people who have experienced violence struggle to adapt to this radical new paradigm: Dab, a bullied middle schooler; Marcus, a high school student whose brother is the last victim of gun violence in America; Ann, a social worker stuck in an abusive marriage; Richard, a professor whose past makes him expect the worst in the present; Gabriela, who is making a dangerous border crossing into the U.S.; the Empty Shell, a dissident writer waiting to be tortured in a notorious prison; and Julian, a white supremacist plotting a horrific massacre.
As their fates intertwine, the things each of the seven experience become emblematic of the promise and perils of the new world. The future holds bright new possibilities for ending terrorism, racism, and even hatred itself. But although violence is no longer possible, that doesn’t mean that some among us won’t keep trying. Mindless cruelty is still alive and well—and those bent on destruction will seek the most devious means to achieve it.
PRAISE FOR THE DAMAGE DONE
Selected as a Libro.fm March Influencer title
Listed as one of the five best new SF titles for March 2022 in The Sunday Times UK. “Michael Landweber asks all the right questions … the result is a trenchant, uncompromisingly intelligent thought experiment.” — Simon Ings, The Times of London
“Landweber pulls off a true rarity, a utopian fantasy that actually feels good.” — Kirkus
“The Damage Done takes a fascinating premise and weds it to equally fascinating characters. More than that, though, in depicting a world without violence, it brings into focus how difficult it is to strip violence from our own imaginations and from the stories we tell. There are characters in this book’s nonviolent world who cannot stop seeking to impose violence on others, and instinctively, as a reader, I found myself wishing to see those characters come to violent ends. This might be the book’s most surprising achievement: the way it compels us not only to reconceptualize violence but implicates us in it.” — Kevin Brockmeier, author of The Illumination
“Michael Landweber’s The Damage Done is a gripping mosaic novel that explores the way violence towards each other seems to be part of our DNA and what would happen to the world if we suddenly found ourselves unable to be violent to one another. At once a narrative about many lives that intertwine together and a novel about big ideas that tackles topics like racism and misogyny, The Damage Done triumphs because it shows a lot of darkness while simultaneously imagining some interesting events and putting the human heart at the center of everything. … Interesting thought experiments don’t necessarily translate into good novels, but that’s exactly what’s happened here. Between the bizarre/supernatural events, Landweber’s wide-ranging cast of characters, and the constant question of what happens when violence is no longer an option, The Damage Done is the kind of book that’s hard to put down and that sticks with you, percolating in your brain, long after you’ve turned the last page.” — Gabino Iglesias, Locus
“In the highly enjoyable The Damage Done, the latest novel by Michael Landweber, the unimaginable has happened: By some unknown force, violence against others has been rendered impossible. … The Damage Done is a fine work, one that forces us to consider how we’d respond were physical violence to end. Would we use our freed-up mental space to invent fresh cruelties, or might we harness it to advance the common cause of humanity? And if a violence-free world were really within reach, would we be brave enough to live in it? I won’t give anything about the book’s conclusion away except to say that the reader’s time is rewarded.” — Washington Independent Review of Books (read the full review here)
“Landweber’s vision is ultimately an optimistic one, with lots of good days. He manages a rare trick, a happy song that doesn’t feel silly or Pollyanna-ish, that embraces the entire animal complexity of our kind, and acknowledges both our habit of fear and our aptitude for hope.” — Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (read the full review here)
“A grim and socially resonant novel set against a Twilight Zone backdrop, The Damage Done shines a light on the darkest parts of humanity while simultaneously offering hope to readers and mankind alike. There’s much to cherish here.”– Ronald Malfi, author of Come with Me
“As you explore more and more of this radically changed world, you also start to think more and more about the implications these ideas bring. And I’m pretty sure that’s what Michael wants the reader to do: It’s not just a tale for entertainment, it’s food for thought.” — Crossing the Pond Reviews (read the full review here)
“Michael Landweber has written an intriguing novel questioning what life could be like if, in a mere day, direct personal violence became impossible. With intense imagery and heart-tugging characters, the author maps the globe upon which people are freed from that most primal of fears: bodily harm. This fascinating story will keep you reading, wondering what its people will dare to accomplish; and it will urge you to wonder, too, what you might be capable of, what boldness you might find, if you knew no one could physically hurt you.” — Catherine Wallace Hope, award-winning author of Once Again
“Deeply imaginative, and shifting from unsettling to inspiring in just a few sentences, Michael Landweber’s The Damage Done is destined to be one of the most daring books of 2022. Stories intertwine with subtlety and skill, and Landweber brings complexity to his characters with deceptive ease. A necessary addition to any bookstore or bookshelf.” — E.A. Aymar, author of The Unrepentant and They’re Gone
“Mike Landweber’s wide-ranging cast of characters submerges us in a realm where violence no longer exists. Thought provoking, engaging, and powerful, this novel invites us to hope for a better, though still imperfect, world.”
— Susi Wyss, author of The Civilized World
“In this wildly inventive novel, Michael Landweber paints a portrait of a world where physical violence is impossible, but humans still find ways to hurt. It’s a sweeping story about connections, love and loss, second chances, and redemption that will linger in readers’ minds long after they turn the last page.” — Tara Laskowski, author of The Mother Next Door and One Night Gone
“Enter Michael Landweber’s The Damage Done, a novel about the ramifications of the miraculous but disorienting reality that occurs when physical violence becomes obsolete, a work that staggered me with its outlook and capacity.” — Jael Montellano, Hypertext Magazine (Read my full interview with Hypertext here.)
“While reading Landweber’s writing, I was gripped not only by the author’s ability to create such a well-crafted book but by the ability to get inside of his character’s heads. The emotion, the inner thoughts, and the humanity explored pull you in and propel the reader forward. This coupled with the questions proposed by developing a world like this, made DAMAGE DONE a stand-out read.” — Victoria Colotta, Art Books and Coffee
I loved getting to know each person and was a big fan of seeing how all of their stories intersected. They were all so unique and yet so similar in their experiences … Overall I would definitely recommend this read if you’re looking for something unique that will make you think about the world in new ways.” — Briana’s Best Reads
SOME MORE FUN STUFF
Joined Alan Warren and John Copenhaver to chat about The Damage Done on the House of Mystery NBC radio show
Joined Jeff Rutherford on his Reading and Writing podcast to talk about The Damage Done
Guest post at CrimeReads about expectations about violence in novels
A list of books where literary and genre collide at Art, Books and Coffee
Guest post on writing from multiple POVs at Novel Suspects
Published by Crooked Lane Books
Mar 08, 2022 | 352 Pages