Book review: Kate Atkinson’s new collection takes us out of this world

Normal Rules Don’t Apply, the author’s first book of short stories since 2002, redraws reality using the broad brushstrokes of a deity

Kate Atkinson: employs moments of divine switch flicking where everything from the sun to the phones go dark and ‘a god’ moves the furniture around. Picture: Helen Clyne

Even for those of us who got through the pandemic relatively unscathed, it’s not much of an exaggeration to say that lockdown felt a bit like the end of the world. Cut off from family and friends, it did resemble some sort of cosmic reset as the universe proved, yet again, that we as a species mean very little to it.

The appropriately titled Normal Rules Don’t Apply is Kate Atkinson’s first collection of short stories since 2002. The previous compendium was called, ironically enough, Not the End of the World. She takes this reality reset idea and runs with it in Gene-sis. Kitty, who works in advertising, happens to be the sister of “a god”, although not the “God” as she informs a fellow train passenger who forms an instant opinion about her sanity.