THE BRILLIANT NEW NOVEL FROM THE ORANGE PRIZE-WINNING AUTHOR OF WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN.
‘Distinctly chilling’ Independent
‘Unsettling as it is entertaining’ Financial Times
‘It's scaring the hell out of me’ Tracy Chevalier
In this eerily prophetic novel from the Orange Prize-winning author of We Need to Talk About Kevin, a once-wealthy family faces the prospect of ruin. This apocalypse is financial – the dollar is in meltdown, America’s national debt far beyond repayment.
It is 2029.
The Mandibles have been counting on a sizable fortune filtering down when their 97-year-old patriarch dies, but now their inheritance is 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 unrecognizable.
Perhaps only Florence’s oddball teenage son Willing, an economics autodidact, can save this formerly august American family from the streets…
Praise for THE MANDIBLES: A Family, 2029–2047
‘As ever, Shriver cuts close to the bone! . . . Distinctly chilling’ Independent
‘A tale that fizzes with ideas and jokes . . . the comedy is pitch black’ The Times
‘All too chillingly plausible…profoundly frightening’ Observer
‘Shriver is fast becoming the go-to novelist for some of the big issues . . . breezy, mordantly comic . . . if the test of a futuristic novel is its eerie proximity to the present, this passes with flying colours’ Daily Mail
‘A gleeful nightmare, it made me snort with laughter even as I was shuddering’ SARAH WATERS, Best Books of the Summer, Guardian
‘Brilliant satire… frankly terrifying’ SARAH CHURCHWELL, Best Books of the Summer, Guardian
‘Searing… establishes her firmly as the Cassandra of American letters… I don’t remember the last time a novel held me so enduringly in its grip’ The New York Times
‘A powerful work investigating the fragility of the financial world. Prescient, imaginative and funny, it also asks deep questions’ The Economist
‘Impressively sweeping… Shriver’s intelligence, mordant humour and vicious leaps of imagination all combine to make this a novel that is as unsettling as it is entertaining’ Financial Times
‘A sharp social eye and a blistering comic streak … great, disconcerting fun’ The New Yorker
‘Hilarious and brilliant … scary in the best possible way’ Elle
‘A provocative and very funny page-turner’ Wall Street Journal
‘Shriver really makes you think about the nature of money . . . By the end, The Mandibles had got under my skin’ Evening Standard
‘It's scaring the hell out of me’ TRACY CHEVALIER
‘A scary, depressing and convincing horror story’ Spectator
‘Insightful and darkly funny’ Good Housekeeping
Shriver's latest opens in 2029, five years after a large-scale cyberattack called "the Stonage" destabilized the American economy and shifted all its transactions off-line. Now President Alvarado addresses the nation to deliver the news that the U.S. is once again under attack by a coordinated international effort to sink the dollar and replace it with a new global currency called the bancor. America's response is to default on all its loans, including the T-bills held by American citizens. And just like that, the inheritance of the Mandible family, created by an industrialist forebear and stewarded by patriarch Douglas, disappears. With wit and insight, Shriver details the impact of this new era on the Mandible clan, who are forced to come together to weather the crisis. Soon Douglas and his wife, Luella, are kicked out of their retirement community and begin bunking with his "boomerpoop" son, Carter (a journalist back when there were still newspapers), and his emotionally fragile wife, Jayne, in their Brooklyn brownstone. Carter's sister Avery and her economics professor husband, Lowell, and their three children arrive on the doorstep of her do-good sister Florence, whose job working for the homeless is more stable than Lowell's academic career. What's remarkable about the Mandibles is how poorly they adapt to the new normal, perhaps with the exception of Florence's son, Willing, a teenager with prodigious knowledge of macroeconomics and a dismal worldview formed by the Stonage. Shriver's (Big Brother) vision has a few blind spots, and a time shift forces significant plot points to be recounted by characters later. Nevertheless, Shriver's imaginative novel works as a mishmash of literary fiction and dystopian satire.
You may need a degree in economics to fully appreciate this book, it goes on and on a bit at first. Long dialogue between characters, which gets a bit tedious and unbelievable as even the teenage son joins in. I don't know any teenagers like that, maybe I'm moving in the wrong circles. Gets better mid book then ends a bit disappointingly. Maybe it's just me. Give it a go.
Doesn't seem to accept my 3 star review. So going to change it to 5 see if it accepts that. But really I give it 3 stars. Ok