Fiskadoro is Denis Johnson's second novel, published in 1985.
The novel is set beyond some apocalypse. It is not a dying world, although it is set in the shadow of one. Fiskadoro describes a vibrant culture, be it one scarred by radiation and bombs, employing shibboleths to ward off the present: "the quarentine will be lifted" (is there even one?), "Bob Marely will come" (who do they mean? and what?)
Here and also south of us, the beaches have a yellow tint, but along the Keys of Florida the sand is like shattered ivory. In the shallows the white of it turns the water such an ideal sea-blue that looking at it you think you must be dead, and the rice paddies, in some seasons, are profoundly emerald. (Ch.1 - first lines)
The people speak a creole, live in shanty towns (or maybe ruins of towns from before); they make life. Strange markets distinguish paper money from change money. Societies search for a history - one day they find a book on Nagasaki, and they wonder, was this the bomb that made their world? or could be from still before? is it all fiction? Strange religions mix Bibles and Korans and Bob Marley and Bruce Lee.
'Whatever happen go happen. Fugdat shit!' (Ch.4)
There are strange parallels in the peoples' memories. Mr Cheung's grandmother remembers in her waking dreams fleeing Vietnam at the American War's end. An end of the world. Mr Cheung's clarinet student is taken by a cult who cut his groin and take his memories with a blue pill. They want to remember the world but can't.
In a world where nothing was familiar, everything was new. And if you can't recall the previous steps in you journey, won't you assume you've been standing still? If you can't remember living yesterday, then isn't your life only one day long. (Ch.6)
Johnson is the son of an American diplomat. Interviewed about the novel he says that he tried to convey those years. Being a diplomat's son transformed into a the story of a survivor. The story was cut loose from the events of survival, becoming absorbed in the perspective of the boy.
Every day he imagined the moment when his father, thinking of nobody, totally cut off from everyone he knew, totally as if he'd been born swimming for his life and never known anything else, gave up and drew the first breath of water. (Ch.4)