SUICIDE CLUB, by Rachel Heng, is set in a near-future New York, where life expectancy averages three hundred years and the pursuit of immortality has become all-consuming for the genetically superior.
They leave us no choice. Always look both ways before you cross the road. Get a 9 to 5 job . Exercise for 30 minutes every day. Do not eat bread. Do not eat sugar. Do yoga. Do meditate. Never raise your voice. Always smile, even if you feel like dying.
What are you doing to help yourself?
What are you doing to show that you're worth the resources? Some time in the near future, thanks to medical technology HealthTechTM, immortality is now within humanity's grasp. But faced with declining economic productivity, falling birth rates and a severely aging population, the Ministry has become the all-powerful arbiter of how healthcare resources are allocated.
Resources accrue to 'lifers', those predisposed for a life expected to be lived healthily well beyond a hundred years old. Some factors that determine lifer status are genetically incidental - but there are other, more intangible factors that are within individuals' control: the degree to which they are 'life-loving' and self-caring. Non-lifers are known as 'sub-100s': individuals with no potential for longevity and deemed a waste of HealthTechTM resources.
The Suicide Club hasn't always been an activist group. Initially, it was a group of disillusioned lifers, gathering to indulge in forbidden, hedonistic activities: performances of live music, traditional meals of the most artery-clogging kind, irresponsible orgies . . . You name it. Now branded terrorists, anyone found guilty of wanting the right to die as they choose will find themselves fast-tracked to the Third Wave and condemned to immortality. . .
Rachel Heng is a Singaporean writer who graduated from Columbia University with a BA in Comparative Literature Society. After working in the finance sector in London for several years, Rachel moved to Austin, TX, to pursue an MFA in Fiction and Screenwriting at the Michener Center for Writers, where she is currently a James A. Michener Fellow and assistant editor for the O Henry Prize anthology. Rachel's short fiction has received a Pushcart Prize Special Mention, Prairie Schooner's Jane Geske Award, and has been featured by the Huffington Post.
Her fiction as been published widely in literary journals such as The Offing, Prairie Schooner, The Adroit Journal, the minnesota review and elsewhere. Her debut novel, Suicide Club, is out in July and will be translated into 7 languages.