• Sunset Nice

Seven wild dystopian realities in Lionel Shriver’s The Mandibles

The Mandibles: A Family 2029-2047 is the story of a family in East Flatbush, Brooklyn dealing with the decline of the United States economy. From the book jacket:

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. 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 US economy spirals into dysfunction-- the challenge of sheer survival.

The Mandibles is excellent doom porn, so we at Dystopian Futurez thought we’d reveal some of the more terrifying/ intriguing dystopian elements from the novel. SPOILERS AHEAD!

7- A Constitutional amendment declaring foreign-born nationals eligible for the Presidency culminates in in President Alvarado winning in 2028. He becomes the first Latino-American President of the United States.

6- A head of lettuce costs $20; a footlong Subway sandwich runs $38.50.

5- During a routine supermarket run, a laid-off college professor finds that $1,100 USD is not enough to cover two decent bottles of chardonnay.

4- Stephen Colbert & Jon Stewart have both run for President and lost, but Chelsea Clinton succeeds in winning in the 2030s.

3- One of the characters, an economics autodidact, uses Bitcoin as an example of a something that can wrong with a currency, but they do not specify what. By the 2030s, Bitcoin has failed.

2-By 2047, workers only keep about 23% of their earnings after taxes, which are automatically deducted from chips implanted in all citizens.

1-Nevada secedes in 2042. They have a wall to keep out refugees from the other states. These refugees are called 49ers; a gold rush of a different color.

The Mandibles hauntingly imagines the impact of current economic issues like India’s demonetization & Venezuela’s hyperinflation and how they may age over time. Highly recommended!


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