Grove Press
Grove Press
Grove Press

Empire of the Senseless

by Kathy Acker

Kathy Acker continues her post-modern explorations with a story set in a bleak world where the society we know is dying in its own ruins.

About The Book

Set in the near future, in a Paris devastated by revolution and disease, Empire of the Senseless is narrated by two terrorists and occasional lovers, Thivai, a pirate, and Abhor, part robot, part human. Together and apart, the two undertake an odyssey of carnage, a holocaust of the erotic. “An elegy for the world of our fathers,” as Kathy Acker calls it, where the terrorists and the wretched of the earth are in command, marching down a road charted by Genet to a Marseillaise composed by Sade.


“Set in the present and near future, this is an apocalyptic tale that makes Clockwork Orange look tame. It’s alternately narrated by the female Abhor, “part robot, part black,” and the male Thivai, a diagnosed paranoid. Thivai is a sort of wide-eyed Huck Finn adventuring through a postmodern world that is punctuated by random violence. Algerian immigrants have taken over Paris, Western cities are now “composed of dead and mutants,” punky kids are playing at being terrorists, CIA plots aboundall this, Acker tells us during the age of Reagan. The most eerie quality of these new-age humanoids is their anesthetized emotions; females of any age are referred to as “cunts” and sadomasochistic relationships, be they homosexual or heterosexual, whether involving children or consenting adults, are the norm. A plotless stream-of-consciousness style and sexually explicit prose only dull Acker’s powerful message.” –Publishers Weekly