Dave Eggers, who used to give the impression of deliberately making each book as unlike its predecessor as possible, has now produced two consecutive novels with a business theme. Last year’s A Hologram for the King, accurately described by Pico Iyer as ‘a kind of Death of a Globalised Salesman’, centred on a man struggling to pull off a deal in Saudi Arabia and reflected diminishing American potency in world markets. The Circle, in contrast, concentrates on a sector in which US businesses remain rampant – but where what they’re doing with their power is troubling.
Mae, the novel’s heroine, is rescued by her former college roommate Annie from a dead-end job and joins her at The Circle, a Californian internet firm bearing – with its near-monopoly of web searches, its omnivorous appetite for information and its ruling troika – an obvious resemblance to Google. Annie,