Jude Cook

Future Imperfect

The Mandibles

By

The Borough Press 402pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

Early on in Lionel Shriver’s merciless, unceasingly sharp new novel, a family saga set in the USA between 2029 and 2047, a father tells his daughter, ‘Plots set in the future are about what people fear in the present.’ In Shriver’s acid satire, everything bad that could happen – short of a nuclear war or a Trump presidency – has happened. To take the pulse of America is to take the pulse of a cadaver.

This is because, a hundred years after the Wall Street Crash of 1929, America’s national debt has become unsustainable. With the dollar close to worthless, an upstart international currency (the Bitcoin-esque Bancor) is humanity’s only hope. Shriver depicts the USA in the grip of a fierce post-capitalist meltdown, a country where money is as baseless as Prospero’s dreams: at one point, dollars are printed on paper so thin they turn to Kleenex in the pocket. Money as a concept is over. It has become purely notional. No bailouts or quantitative easing will provide the solution this time. ‘They could raise taxes. But the rich already pay high taxes. And now their investments are gone. The rich aren’t rich … What else is there to do? Photocopy the money?’

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • John Stubbs reviews Stephen Greenblatt's latest, 'Tyrant: Shakespeare on Power' ,
    • RT : What happened when US military strategist Herman Kahn - one of Kubrick’s three models for Dr Strangelove - took LSD… ,
    • 'Pollan has no doubt that the use of psychedelics could have a powerfully beneficial effect on a range of condition… ,
    • A memoir about an Untouchable family and the 'formation of modern India': 'Ants among Elephants' by @gidla_sujatha… ,
    • RT : First founded in Edinburgh in 1979, is considered a trusted independent source for reviews of new book… ,
    • 'In different ways Hatherley makes gritty Lódź and poor old which-country-are-we-in-this-week Lviv sound entrancing… ,
    • In this issue Lucy Popescu discusses the miscarriages of justice occurring in the investigation over Maltese journa… ,