The first tiny green shoots of a subgenre are emerging. Call it the Post-Traumatic Trump Novel. A denizen of the liberal urban archipelago – innocent, arrogant, voted for Hillary – ventures forth into the land of the Trump supporter, where his or her assumptions about America are dismantled in a series of comic (or violent) encounters. Last year, Gary Shteyngart’s Lake Success set the template, sending the narcissistic investment banker Barry Cohen on an infernal Greyhound bus tour of the red states. Now Jonathan Lethem gives us The Feral Detective, a noir variation on the theme. Like its author, who teaches at Pomona College in California, this novel has gone west, to ‘the bright utopian edge, the western void’. Here the private-eye novel meets the Western.
Phoebe Siegler – single, in her thirties, ‘a pure product of Manhattan’ – has quit her job at the New York Times in a fit of pique over Trump’s election. At the beginning of the book she has just arrived at the heart of the Inland Empire, the