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Gnomon

Narrated by: Ben Onwukwe
Length: 29 hrs and 4 mins
4 out of 5 stars (10 ratings)

Non-member price: $42.54

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Publisher's Summary

Random House presents the audiobook edition of Gnomon, written by Nick Harkaway, read by Ben Onwukwe.

Near-future Britain is a state in which citizens are constantly observed and democracy has reached a pinnacle of 'transparency'. Every action is seen, every word is recorded and the System has access to thoughts and memories.

When suspected dissident Diana Hunter dies in custody, it marks the first time a citizen has been killed during an interrogation. Mielikki Neith, a trusted state inspector, is assigned to find out what went wrong. Immersing herself in neural recordings of the interrogation, what she finds isn't Hunter but rather a panorama of characters within Hunter's psyche. 

Embedded in the memories of these impossible lives lies a code which Neith must decipher to find out what Hunter is hiding. The staggering consequences of what she finds will reverberate throughout the world.

A Guardian Book of the Year.

©2018 Nick Harkaway (P)2018 Random House Audiobooks

Critic Reviews

"Gnomon is an extraordinary novel, and one I can’t stop thinking about some weeks after I read it. It is deeply troubling, magnificently strange, and an exhilarating read." (Emily St. John Mandel, author of Station Eleven)

"Nick Harkaway’s most ambitious novel yet. [A] story of near-future mass surveillance, artificial intelligence and human identity... An amazing and quite unforgettable piece of fiction." (The Guardian)

"Wonderfully good." (Sunday Times)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Take your time with this

I had to wait a week before I could write a review for this book. The ideas and narrative are just too big to observe at one time and I definitely needed time between each listen to try to decipher what was going on. This is not a straight forward narrative, but it is very engaging and interesting.

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Totally riveting ...

Thank you Nick Harkaway ... I could write heaps about this ... lets put it this way. My all-time favourite book until I read Gnomon was American Gods by Neil Gaimon. I was sad that perhaps I would never be so totally absorbed by a book ever again. I have listened to American Gods at least 6 times ... still chuckle at the same part, the same characters and still give a taste of the numinous, the liminal ... Gnomon? Extraordinary ... I was held, transported, for the entire 30 hours ... I was cross that I had to sleep and eat!

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  • Michelle
  • 21-11-2018

Strange, beautiful & wonderful

I’ve read Angelmaker and Tigerman and loved them both. This is different again. It’s a story you have to relax into. The first change of direction startled me. Go with the flow. It’s not slow, it’s action packed & laugh out loud funny in places. I do wonder how Harkaway managed to harness such a beast of a tale. A tour de force.

Onwukwe does a great job considering what he has to get his mouth around in places. There were only a few moments when I wasn’t sure who was speaking, and they all resolved before I became annoyed. The beauty of his voice definitely adds. The audiobook format helped me to not skip ahead, to stay with the story & allow myself to be immersed in it.

After a marathon listen over 3 days, and not quite enough sleep I emerge satisfied and refreshed. Truly wonder-full. And almost indescribable.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Jaspal
  • 21-12-2018

I thought I was a Harkaway fan...

Hard to describe this book. There are stories within stories, which then overlap each other (it reminded me a bit of the dreams in the film Inception). The scope and imagination on show are awesome, but there are long tracts of the book that I found almost incomprehensible. It starts to become clearer towards the end, but I found it to be a big investment of time for only moderate reward - hence the low rating.

The narrator is good and imbues the characters with plenty of personality and expression, but there are so many characters it is sometimes hard to spot when a new chapter has started and the story is continuing from a different character's point of view.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Alan
  • 04-02-2019

Mind Blowing

I can't fathom why this hasn't received greater acclaim. Three and half stars? Seriously? This is a five-star narrator reading a six-star book, and whoever marked it down can only have been expecting something very different going in. Yes, it is long and surreal and complicated. That doesn't mean it isn't an absolute joy to listen to. A great white shark may be a terrible tree climber, but that doesn't make it a failure as an animal. In its particular niche of undersea predation, it is unrivaled and magnificent. Gnomon is a very particular sort of creature, but what it does, nothing else I've seen does better.

I get through a lot of books but I rarely bother leaving reviews, although I usually at least give ratings. Most of the time it seems like the meat of what I'd say about my favourite stories has already been said when I get there. But this is seriously one of the best novels I've ever read; possibly even the absolute best (not that I've physically read it yet, but I'm definitely getting a hard copy). It deserves to be recognised as a classic, yet from the number of ratings and reviews I see here it is largely being overlooked. This will not do. It is so good that having discovered it, I now feel somehow obligated to help it reach a wider audience. For the foreseeable future, anyone I know who shows the slightest interest in it will immediately be forced to read my hard copy in one twenty-nine hour sitting, with me standing over them, so that it may then be discussed without fear of spoilers (or sleep). As for Audible, if even one person who was on the fence goes ahead and listens to it on the basis of this review, then actually taking the time to leave one for once will have been more than worth it.

How to describe Gnomon? Not easy. Psychedelic noir? From the synopsis you might think it was primarily a dystopian science fiction story, but large sections of it are set in different times and places from the future Britain in which the story begins, and the focus is more on the internal worlds of the various characters than on the politics of their surroundings. Don't expect a single narrative thread; expect various narratives initially connected only by symbolism to gradually converge on a shared ending and jostle for position as they approach it. Expect a multi-layered reality that starts out masquerading as dystopian science fiction and becomes ever more surreal the further into it you go. At its core this is a story about stories, composed of several smaller stories, each with their own identity and yet all completely symbiotic. It is so full of ideas that weeks after finishing it, I still find parts of it coming to mind on a daily basis. It has enriched my life just by being there in my head to think about.

If you have even the slightest inclination to listen to this audiobook then I urge you to give it a go. For my part, I could not be more grateful to Nick Harkaway for creating this story or to Ben Onwukwe for bringing it to life. A truly transcendent experience.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 22-01-2019

A fascinating story with a captivating performance

Worth 1 of anyone's credits. It isn't short but every word is worth your time.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Hilary
  • 08-03-2019

complex story beautifully told

narration was fantastic! real characterisation.
i loved the twists and turns in this convoluted story, really kept me listening.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Luke W.
  • 21-02-2019

Fabulous and strange

For those of you who like to be an active participant in what you read, I don’t think you will find a finer book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Dj G.
  • 20-02-2019

This one is still unfolding in my mind days after

This one is still unfolding in my mind days after finishing it. A commentary on today, future tech and philosophy.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 04-09-2019

This might have a good story. I never found out.

Very dense writing with seemingly endless detail and asides. I reached about a quarter of the way through with little to no idea of what it was about. I have read almost nothing but science fiction for the last 45 years so I'm not afraid of something that tries to be different or that makes me work hard. This left me cold.
Having said that it may well be that the story rewards persistence and comes to a satisfying conclusion. I fear I will not find out soon as it is simply not for me.
Try a sample first before committing money to it and I hope it gives someone pleasure.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Vivienne Kenny
  • 08-06-2019

Please listen to this performance

Ben Onwukwe gives a beautiful rendition, of a superb enjoyable novel. Float, swim, dive - enjoy

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • T. JONES
  • 19-12-2018

Good ideas but jumbled and confusing as audio book

Great idea and interesting characters but poorly stitched together. Possibly would be better if read

1 of 2 people found this review helpful