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Publisher's Summary

With dry wit and psychological acuity, this near-future novel explores the aftershocks of an economically devastating US sovereign debt default on four generations of a once-prosperous American family. Down-to-earth and perfectly realistic in scale, this is not an over-the-top Blade Runner tale. It is not science fiction.
In 2029 the United States is engaged in a bloodless world war that will wipe out the savings of millions of American families. Overnight, on the international currency exchange, the "almighty dollar" plummets in value, to be replaced by a new global currency: the "bancor". In retaliation the president declares that America will default on its loans. With "Deadbeat Nation" being unable to borrow, the government prints money to cover its bills. What little remains for savers is rapidly eaten away by runaway inflation.
The Mandibles have been counting on a sizable fortune filtering down when their 97-year-old patriarch dies. Once the inheritance turns to ash, each family member must contend with disappointment but also - as the US economy spirals into dysfunction - the challenge of sheer survival.
Recently affluent, Avery is petulant that she can't buy olive oil while her sister, Florence, absorbs strays into her cramped household. An expat author, their aunt Nollie returns from abroad at 73 to a country that's unrecognizable. Her brother, Carter, fumes at caring for their demented stepmother now that an assisted living facility isn't affordable. Only Florence's oddball teenage son, Willing, an economics autodidact, will save this formerly august American family from the streets.
The Mandibles is about money. Thus it is necessarily about bitterness, rivalry, and selfishness - but also about surreal generosity, sacrifice, and transformative adaptation to changing circumstances.
©2016 Lionel Shriver (P)2016 HarperCollins Publishers
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Moe on 06-30-16

So that's what the left and the right have in common!!!

Anyone who dislikes liberals or conservatives in this present climate should give this a listen with an open mind. The two views of humanity and society DO have some similarities and this book is a commentary on both through the adventures of the book's protagonist. There does seem to be a conservative bent in terms of the government role in American life, the definition of freedom, and taking responsibility for oneself. The liberal POV is exhibited in the characters' incredulity around the conflation of change and loss of identity, clinging desperately to one stagnant view of American identity and the need & respect for family, kindness and community
I have met the characters and find them plausible, overall. I don't believe city dwellers would be as thick as they are portrayed, but understand how this keeps the story moving.
Good listen and riveting with how plausible this dystopian future is. Going too far in either direction could wreak havoc on everything!
Fight for your freedom, don't believe everything you hear, your ally can come in any shade, always be prepared, keep your ear to the ground & always, always be kind to one another... Unless,you REALLY can't. Sometimes, it may pay to be the bad guy in order to be good.

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8 of 8 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Fattail on 09-17-17


The Mandibles describes the upcoming collapse of a society that has been built upon a facade of debt and a fiat monetary system. It takes place in the future USA but you can watch the prequel take place in Venezuela today. The debt, demographics, deleveraging, and technology all play their role in this dystopian debacle. At first the catalysts act slowly, but as each actor adapts and reacts to the slow motion disaster, the half life of each accommodation to the new reality shortens and speeds up the process. Those who panic first preserve their wealth the best. Those who call the government's bluff on their threats to use their monopoly of force to rob the citizens of their assets and savings also benefit.

This is the future for the USA. Our debts cannot be paid. Our budget deficits cannot be sustained. Our unfunded liabilities, like social security, medicare, and private pensions will be inflated away. Capital controls and asset forfeiture are our future.

Use this novel to plan accordingly.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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