• by J. G. Ballard
  • Narrated by Tom Hiddleston
  • 6 hrs and 34 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

From the author of the Sunday Times best seller Cocaine Nights comes an unnerving tale of life in a modern tower block running out of control.
Within the concealing walls of an elegant forty-storey tower block, the affluent tenants are hell-bent on an orgy of destruction. Cocktail parties degenerate into marauding attacks on "enemy" floors and the once-luxurious amenities become an arena for riots and technological mayhem.
In this visionary tale of urban disillusionment from the renowned author of Crash and Cocaine Nights, society slips into a violent reverse as the isolated inhabitants of the high-rise, driven by primal urges, recreate a dystopian world ruled by the laws of the jungle.
The audiobook of High Rise arrives as interest in the book and J.G. Ballard's work reaches a new peak. The film adaptation of High Rise, directed by Ben Wheatley (Kill List, Sightseers) will be released in September 2015, starring Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller, Luke Evans and Elisabeth Moss.
Tom Hiddleston, who is known to millions worldwide for his role as the evil god Loki in the blockbuster Thor and Avengers movies, has lent his voice to this first UK audiobook adaptation of High Rise, which was published in 1975.
J. G. Ballard was born in 1930 in Shanghai, where his father was a businessman. After internment in a civilian prison camp, he and his family returned to England in 1946. He published his first novel, The Drowned World, in 1961. His 1984 bestseller Empire of the Sun won the Guardian Fiction Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. It was later filmed by Steven Spielberg. His memoir, Miracles of Life, was published in 2008. J. G. Ballard died in 2009.


What the Critics Say

"Ballard's finest novel.... A triumph" (The Times)
"Another eerie glimpse into the future. A fast-moving, spine-tingling fable of the concrete jungle." (Daily Express)
"A gripping read, particularly if you like your thrills chilly, bloody and with claims to social relevance." (Time Out)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Disturbing Fable

High-Rise is one of the best books by J. G. Ballard, one of the most distinctive and influential writers of the last fifty years. A sort of Lord of the Flies with grown ups it tells of how a luxurious apartment building for affluent professionals descends into savagery as their primal urges overwhelm their veneer of civilization. An important book and well worth experiencing.
My only quibble is the narrator. Tom Hiddleston is a fine actor, a well-known name and the obvious choice as he plays the lead in the forthcoming feature film directed by Ben Wheatley. But I have been slightly spoiled by hearing Sean Barrett and William Gaminara read other works by Ballard for Audible and they are both outstanding interpreters of Ballard and while Hiddleston does a very good job as reader a screen actor turning his hand to reading an audiobook isn't quite as polished as those experts.
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- G. K. Lowell

Typical Ballard

I should say from the outset that I haven't read Ballard chronologically, but I appreciate that this is quite an early response to the skyscraper phenomenon that informed social housing in the 1970s and might tell us a lot about why vertical living isn't doing urban communities any good. The trouble with this book is that its argument is the same that informs earlier works such as The Drowned World and later works (Crash, Millennium People, Super Cannes): bourgeois mores are a superficial veneer beneath which lurk much more primal needs and desires that any deterioration of circumstances brings to the surface. Gender roles revert under pressure to something approaching the jungle law. Class is ingrained and will always re-establish itself after some pseudo-egalitarian vacuum. Our dependence on machines, technology and concrete blunts our skills and perception until a crisis occurs. We are a naturally violent species. and the protagonist is the same protagonist in most Ballard narratives.
No doubt this is well-written, sharply observed, expertly paced, but I have read this before; only the setting was different.
It is very interesting though, from the point of view of our digital age, that something as banal as an elevator in a high-rise building could become the lynchpin of human resourcefulness and survival. We are now so much more gadget-dependent that Ballard's dystopian vision seems a little over-anxious and a little quaint. We have not (yet) collapsed into a primeval swamp of ineptitude or descended into some existential violence between ghetto-ised tribes of techno-societies. Very little is written now about anxieties surrounding technologies because writers fear the swift obsolescence of their plot devices (Eggers' The Circle about the googlification of the world isn't lukewarm because of his use of technology but because of limp characterisation and clumsy plotting).
I think Ballard's pessimism was well-placed, though. We are violent; that violence does not need to manifest itself in murder and mayhem and the raiding of food shelves in supermarkets. It is now institutionalised in the so-called free market and produces urban social engineering: the rich build, buy, renovate, move in (or not) and push the poor out into peripheral ghettos. No bones broken...
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- P1969

Book Details

  • Release Date: 26-03-2015
  • Publisher: Audible Studios