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The Subprimes: A Novel Paperback – May 3, 2016
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“It’s hard for a fiction writer to know how to engage the present American moment. This powder-keg culture might seem like rich material, but dramatizing it is harder than it appears. Greenfeld is one of the writers we can watch trying to figure it out.” (Jonathan Dee, Harper's)
“Greenfeld has produced a fascinating novel about life in the age of economic uncertainty. It’s a colorful tale of characters living on the edge combined with sharp social insights.” (Walter Isaacson)
“The Subprimes holds up a funhouse-mirror version of ourselves and our era. Karl Taro Greenfeld has written a masterful, viciously funny satire of our times, one that we ignore at our peril.” (Ben Fountain)
“A little Occupy, a little Ed Abbey, and a good deal of hope for solidarity in a screwed-up world -- The Subprimes is a superhero story for the rest of us.” (Bill McKibben)
“Sharply observed and engrossing, The Subprimes depicts a future that is simultaneously absurd...and plausible. It would be too scary to read if it weren’t so entertaining.” (Edan Lepucki)
“With sharp and indicting fury and humor, profound compassion, deep respect, and literary prowess, Greenfeld has written a scorching, twenty-first-century Grapes of Wrath that perfectly captures our time’s suffering and potentially apocalyptic greed and folly.” (Booklist (starred review))
“Set in a meticulously, terrifyingly imagined all-too-near future, The Subprimes is a potent cocktail of North American myth, equal parts John Steinbeck and Margaret Atwood, with a dash of benzene.” (William Gibson)
“The Subprimes admirably -- amazingly -- superimposes all the populist instincts of The Grapes of Wrath onto a dystopian future that is all too visible from our current moment. Greenfeld’s compassion and understanding -- this novel’s beating heart -- are what grabbed me most.” (Charles Bock)
“Greenfeld has a tendency to lean toward parody in his satiric style, but here he employs enough authenticity to terrify, enough black humor to disarm the story’s inherent pessimism, and a surprising admiration for faith in its myriad forms.” (Kirkus)
From the Back Cover
In a future America that feels increasingly familiar, you are your credit score. Extreme wealth inequality has created a class of have-nothings: Subprimes. Their bad credit ratings have lost them jobs and make them unemployable. Jobless and without assets, they have walked out on mortgages, been foreclosed upon, or can no longer afford a fixed address. Fugitives who must keep moving to avoid arrest, they wander the globally warmed American wasteland searching for day labor and a place to park their battered SUVs for the night.
Karl Taro Greenfeld’s trenchant satire follows the fortunes of two families whose lives reflect this new dog-eat-dog, survival-of-the-financially-fittest America. Desperate for work and food, a Californian Subprime family has been forced to migrate east, hoping for a better life. They are soon joined in their odyssey by a writer and his family—slightly better off but falling fast. Eventually they discover a small settlement of Subprimes who have begun an agrarian utopia built on a foreclosed exurb. Soon, though, the little stability they have is threatened when their land is targeted by job creators for shale-oil extraction.
But all is not lost. A hero emerges—a woman on a motorcycle—suspiciously lacking a credit score . . . who may just save the world.
Top customer reviews
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It's a scathing indictment of modern conservatism. I think of myself a pretty liberal, so I'm just fine with that aspect. It's just by making the conservatives so extreme, they become straw men, they're not believable characters. Maybe the author was going for the "way-over-the-top" satire style, but for my tastes, never quite made it there. It just got too preachy.
Still liked the book, though.
The scenario seems hauntingly possible. No great leaps of logic, no suspension of reason is required to envision the current economic disparity on the U.S. devolving into such a frightening us/them world. In that regard those who've likened "The Subprimes" to the classic "Grapes of Wrath" are not wrong. I was drawn into the story, appreciated those characters who were themselves Subprimes, and felt sorry for most of the others.
But this is no "Grapes of Wrath". the enthralling climax led to a disappointing resolution. Without spoiling the read for others who may well appreciate the rather supernatural elements with which Greenfeld's resolves the situation, I was left wondering whether the author was simply unable to devise an ending more congruent with what was otherwise a captivating story.
Is the book worth a read? Most definitely. Would I read other works by Mr. Greenfeld? Without a doubt! Does "The Subprimes" leave something to be desired? Well, for me it certainly does.
Most recent customer reviews
gripping and yes disturbing reading on the...Read more