The brilliant new novel from the Orange Prize-winning author of We Need to Talk About Kevin centres on three generations of the Mandible family as a fiscal crisis hits a near-future America.
It is 2029. The Mandibles have been counting on a sizable fortune filtering down when their 97-year-old patriarch dies. Yet America's soaring national debt has grown so enormous that it can never be repaid. Under siege from an upstart international currency, the dollar is in meltdown. A bloodless world war will wipe out the savings of millions of American families. Their inheritance turned to ash, each family member must contend with disappointment but also - as the effects of the downturn start to hit - the challenge of sheer survival.
Recently affluent Avery is petulant that she can't buy olive oil while her sister, Florence, is forced to absorb strays into her increasingly cramped household. As their father, Carter, fumes at having to care for his demented stepmother now that a nursing home is too expensive, his sister, Nollie, an expat author, returns from abroad at 73 to a country that's unrecognisable. Perhaps only Florence's oddball teenage son, Willing, an economics autodidact, can save this formerly august American family from the streets.
This is not science fiction. This is a frightening, fascinating, scabrously funny glimpse into the decline that may await the United States all too soon, from the pen of perhaps the most consistently perceptive and topical author of our times.
Praise for Lionel Shriver: "Shriver proves she is not afraid of anything...." (Observer)
"It's a wonder that subject matter on the surface so bleak can be transformed into something so uplifting." (Daily Telegraph)
"You can rely on Lionel Shriver to upend your expectations." (Daily Express)
"Required reading for all mortals." (Daily Mail)
"...witty, observant and beautifully controlled." (Literary Review)
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Dystopian, Compelling, Entertaining.
It was compelling and credible. Given that the backdrop to the story was economic, and that the characters experienced life in a way very different to our own, this was no mean feat.
Two things: The author mastered the material to extent that it was convincing and effortless. The authentic detail illustrating how our world could lead to the world of the Mandibles.
His narration was the "authentic voice" telling the story. Like the author, he didn't get in the way of the story.
Shriver explains money. A creation of humans that reflects the essence of humanity.
- Mark H. Sutherland
What a great read!