The Dave Hutchinson view of Europe grows increasingly plausible

It’s always dangerous to take a fictional character’s utterances as a stand-in for the author’s views, but this passage from Dave Hutchinson’s Europe in Winter does at least seem like a clear statement of the premise of the book:

Kaunas took a moment to gather his thoughts. “Europe is inherently unstable. It’s been in flux for centuries; countries have risen and fallen, borders have ebbed and flowed, governments have come and gone. The Schengen era was just an historical blip, an affectation.”

Hutchinson’s book, and its two predecessors, are thrillers set in a future world where Europe has fractured into a number of microstates and “polities,” coexisting with recognizable nation-states, the remnants of the European Union, and miscellaneous other transnational actors. It’s a festival of borders and bureaucracy, with lots of convincing detail (for instance, how after the UK dissolves, the spymasters of England spend a lot of time worrying about territorial threats from Scotland and Wales).

This is maybe not too surprising a vision for a novel published in 2016, the year of the Brexit vote. But Europe in Winter is the third book in a series; the first, Europe in Autumn (and still the best I think), was published in January 2014. Hutchinson should, I think, get credit for seeing before many others that the centrifugal theme in European history was not quite played out. And most would agree that evidence in favor of the hypothesis “Europe is inherently unstable” has increased since he wrote those words.


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