The Mandibles : A Family, 2029-2047
by Lionel Shriver

Overview -

"A provocative and very funny page-turner..."-- Wall Street Journal

With dry wit and psychological acuity, this near-future novel explores the aftershocks of an economically devastating U.S. sovereign debt default on four generations of a once-prosperous American family.  Read more...

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More About The Mandibles by Lionel Shriver

"A provocative and very funny page-turner..."--Wall Street Journal

With dry wit and psychological acuity, this near-future novel explores the aftershocks of an economically devastating U.S. sovereign debt default on four generations of a once-prosperous American family. Down-to-earth and perfectly realistic in scale, this is not an over-the-top Blade Runner tale. It is not science fiction.

In 2029, the United States is engaged in a bloodless world war that will wipe out the savings of millions of American families. Overnight, on the international currency exchange, the "almighty dollar" plummets in value, to be replaced by a new global currency, the "bancor." In retaliation, the president declares that America will default on its loans. "Deadbeat Nation" being unable to borrow, the government prints money to cover its bills. What little remains to savers is rapidly eaten away by runaway inflation.

The Mandibles have been counting on a sizable fortune filtering down when their ninety-seven-year-old patriarch dies. Once the inheritance turns to ash, each family member must contend with disappointment, but also--as the U.S. economy spirals into dysfunction--the challenge of sheer survival.

Recently affluent, Avery is petulant that she can't buy olive oil, while her sister, Florence, absorbs strays into her cramped household. An expat author, their aunt, Nollie, returns from abroad at seventy-three to a country that's unrecognizable. Her brother, Carter, fumes at caring for their demented stepmother, now that an assisted living facility isn't affordable. Only Florence's oddball teenage son, Willing, an economics autodidact, will save this formerly august American family from the streets.

The Mandibles is about money. Thus it is necessarily about bitterness, rivalry, and selfishness--but also about surreal generosity, sacrifice, and transformative adaptation to changing circumstances.

  • ISBN-13: 9780062328243
  • ISBN-10: 0062328247
  • Publisher: Harper
  • Publish Date: June 2016
  • Page Count: 416
  • Dimensions: 9 x 6.3 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds

Related Categories

Books > Fiction > Literary
Books > Fiction > Family Life

Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2016-04-04
  • Reviewer: Staff

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. (June)

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