The Mandibles

The Mandibles

A Family, 2029-2047

Book - 2016
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From Lionel Shriver, the acclaimed author of the National Book Award finalist So Much for That and the international bestseller We Need to Talk About Kevin, comes a striking new novel about family, money, and global economic crisis.

The year is 2029, and nothing is as it should be. The very essence of American life, the dollar, is under attack. In a coordinated move by the rest of the world's governments, the dollar loses all its value. The American President declares that the States will default on all its loans--prices skyrocket, currency becomes essentially worthless, and we watch one family struggle to survive through it all.

The Mandibles can count on their inheritance no longer, and each member must come to terms with this in their own way--from the elegant ex-pat author Nollie, in her middle age, returning to the U.S. from Paris after many years abroad, to her precocious teenage nephew Willing, who is the only one to actually understand the crisis, to the brilliant Georgetown economics professor Lowell, who watches his whole vision of the world disintegrate before his eyes.

As ever, in her new novel, Shriver draws larger than life characters who illuminate this complicated, ever-changing world. One of our sharpest observers of human nature, Shriver challenges us to think long and hard about the society we live in and what, ultimately, we hold most dear.

Publisher: Toronto : HarperCollinsPublishersLtd, 2016
Edition: First Canadian edition
ISBN: 9781443434010
Branch Call Number: SHRI
Characteristics: 402 pages ; 23 cm


From the critics

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Apr 17, 2019

author recommended by Katherine H

Jan 12, 2018

Terrifying, hilarious, implausible, believable, erudite, slapstick, economic, dystopian, caustic, warm, heroic.

Mar 29, 2017

Thought-provoking and original. Also kind of scary in these uncertain times - it made me think of how my family would fare in an economic crisis. This book is not perfect, but it certainly offers a new perspective on what could happen to our country.

Interesting that many of the objections listed below seem to be politically based. The book is not a political screed, it merely posits one possible scenario for America in the future. Lighten up, folks!

Dec 30, 2016

The future 2027 financial scenario that unfolds in this book is plausible: the collapse of the US economy due to its gigantic national debt leads to a lack of confidence in the US dollar by other countries and by its main debtor (China). But I don’t think the meek submission of US citizens to confiscation of their assets rings true. The story relies on societal apathy caused by prolonged liberal "nanny state" policies of entitlements that lead to a slow slide into lethargy and denial of reality, similar to the proverbial frog in a pot of water that is slowly heated to boiling. That said, the book certainly drives home the fragility of paper and electronic “wealth” on which our economies are based compared to hard assets like food, fuel, land, and even useful skills. There is humour in the book and it’s quite clever in imagining new words to reflect what’s happening in society 10 years hence like “boomerpoops" for the long-lived baby boomers sucking back Social Security and delaying inheritance to their frustrated descendants. Although the scenario painted is extreme and the characters are given to speechifying, the book makes you think about the world in a different light and is definitely worth a read. If you’re a knowledge worker you may want to brush up on your survival skills!

Dec 01, 2016

Interesting and thought provoking. At times a bit
preachy, but generally well written. ( Too bad some
some people didn't bother to finish it before posting
scathing reviews). It is definitely worth a look.

Sep 26, 2016

Very disappointing. Having really liked several of her books, "We Need to Talk about Kevin", "The Post Birthday World", "So Much For That", and more, this book was a real let down. The writing and story telling are reminiscent of her early work "Checker and the Derailleurs" which was not that good. Boring characters who have boring conversations. I read just over 100 pages of this newest work and moved onto something else. I hope her next book will be back to the style of "Big Brother" or "Game Control". both of these books made the reader confront some not very nice opinions and beliefs within ourselves that we are not too proud of but, damn, there they are!

Sep 18, 2016

I can't believe this book is getting so many recommendations - New York Times?! - without mentioning that it is a full on libertarian screed. Big bad government, xenophobia and the gold standard all wrapped up in a dystopian future. She tells a good tale, but it wasn't a good read because of all the proselytizing. (SPOILER ALERT) I have to admit the part about the wall being built by the Mexicans to keep Americans OUT was pretty funny. Thank god I didn't actually pay for this book - I love the SPL!

athompson10 Sep 04, 2016

Creative, inventive, sometimes bitingly satirical, though the economic theorizing gets a little tiresome.

Aug 31, 2016

Well, at least it's well-written! Although the so-called economic theory which the author espouses gets a little tedious after its umpteenth iteration. Libertarians and deficit hawks should be happy, if they read this, that is.

Aug 01, 2016

Spoiler alert: Shriver can write, but this novel, while engaging, is a dyspeptic, right-wing rant. It took me a full 24 hours after completing the book to realize Shriver's 'utopia' - where her survivors end up - is a libertarian fantasy world. No regulation, no social safety net, no health care... and a flat tax! Wow, we can all live out our dreams, unfettered by the jackboot of government on our necks! And even better, no more 'affectations;, like eating disorders, ADHD, or gluten intolerance! The polemic overwhelms any attempt at a credible story, and the characters speak in lectures much of the time. One spoiled, privileged 17 year old swings from whining about not getting to go to college to prostitution without batting a false eyelash. and 2/3rds of the book passes - set in NYC, after societal collapse - before a handgun is mentioned. Right.
And far, far to the right is clearly where Shriver thinks salvation lies. Nice to see Ayn Rand-style delusional thinking is alive and well.

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Feb 02, 2018

mooyii_T thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 99 and 27


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