We Are Now Beginning Our Descent


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Adam Kellas, a British journalist, would-be thriller novelist, and failed lover meets Astrid Walsh, a self-possessed, hard-charging reporter while the two are covering allied military operations in the Afghan mountains.

We Are Now Beginning Our Descent: A Novel by James Meek, Paperback | Barnes & Noble®

A year later, following a disastrous dinner party in London during which he destroys his few remaining friendships, Adam receives a short, beseeching email and hastily embarks on a transatlantic journey to a small town near the Chesapeake Bay where he believes Astrid waits for him. He envisions the fresh start his new life with Astrid might offer, unaware that she may be harboring unsettling secrets of her own. Moving over time and continents this is a beautifully written and yet gritty story of love, loss and war and politics.

Quite unputdownable. At the dawn of the twenty-first century Adam Kellas finds himself hurled on a journey between continents and cultures.

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In his quest from the war-torn mountains of Afghanistan to the elegant dinner tables of north London and then the marshlands of the American South, only the memory of the beautiful, elusive Astrid offers the possibility of hope. Does it come anywhere near the Greatest War Reporter Novel podium, whose only occupant, Evelyn Waugh's Scoop, has stood there without serious challenge for 70 years?

I think it does. It might have got a little nearer to toppling that great cynic's romp if it weren't for the fact that this is at heart a novel about much more: it's about love, friendship and the struggle to be true in a world that has lost its grip on certainties. His satiric skewering comes with empathy.

Once more unto the front

Each character, from the highly purposed columnist to the latest literary sensation, is neither too repugnant nor exactly blameless. And their friend, Adam, is so thrillingly flawed, and so agonizingly cognizant of each and every bad trait and deed of his own, that we watch his disintegration, and the role reversals of his friends, with helpless glee.


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In opposition to the pivotal dinner party is a violent episode in Afghanistan. Here, Meek could vibrate a little too portentously. He could err on the side of poignancy.

Publisher Description

He could crumble into philosophical musings about the Other. The potential pitfalls in creating such a scene are many. But Meek tells it in one compact swoop, and the result is a jolt.

Ladies and gentlemen, now that we have begun our descent...

Both the social calamity and the murderous catastrophe are violent in their own ways. One happens in a thousand nicks and cuts, the other with brutal and irrevocable swiftness. But do they? Meek seems to be asking. Do we write the way we think, or do we write the way things happen?

The Sydney Morning Herald

He suggests we write according to rules that we accept at our peril. The potboiler Adam is writing dictates that nuance be lost to drama; the literary fiction his friend writes requires drama to drown in nuance. When the characters inadvertently organize their personal lives by these dicta, the results are disastrous.

Television reporter Arthur Kent in Afghanistan,

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