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The Subprimes: A Novel
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Published:
HarperCollins 2015
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Description

A wickedly funny dystopian parody set in a financially apocalyptic future America, from the critically acclaimed author of Triburbia.

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 make them unemployable. Jobless and without assets, they've 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 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, yet 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 just may save the world.

In The Subprimes, Karl Taro Greenfeld turns his keen and unflinching eye to our country today—and where we may be headed. The result is a novel for the 99 percent: a darkly funny comedy about paradise lost and found, the value of credit, economic policy, and the meaning of family.

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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
05/12/2015
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780062132444
ASIN:
B00MMEBJ52
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Karl Taro Greenfeld. (2015). The Subprimes: A Novel. HarperCollins.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Karl Taro Greenfeld. 2015. The Subprimes: A Novel. HarperCollins.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Karl Taro Greenfeld, The Subprimes: A Novel. HarperCollins, 2015.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Karl Taro Greenfeld. The Subprimes: A Novel. HarperCollins, 2015.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2022. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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56861346-6870-d2e7-e0bf-474f6c02fe8c
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Date Added:
Jun 12, 2018 16:34:30
Date Updated:
Jul 31, 2023 22:07:10
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Apr 14, 2024 07:59:04
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        Karl Taro Greenfeld is the author of seven previous books, including the novel Triburbia and the acclaimed memoir Boy Alone. His award-winning writing has appeared in Harper's Magazine, The Atlantic, The Paris Review, Best American Short Stories 2009 and 2013, and The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories 2012. Born in Kobe, Japan, he has lived in Paris, Hong Kong, and Tokyo, and currently lives in Pacific Palisades, California, with his wife, Silka, and their daughters, Esmee and Lola.

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fullDescription

A wickedly funny dystopian parody set in a financially apocalyptic future America, from the critically acclaimed author of Triburbia.

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 make them unemployable. Jobless and without assets, they've 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 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, yet 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 just may save the world.

In The Subprimes, Karl Taro Greenfeld turns his keen and unflinching eye to our country today—and where we may be headed. The result is a novel for the 99 percent: a darkly funny comedy about paradise lost and found, the value of credit, economic policy, and the meaning of family.

reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Jonathan Dee, Harper's
      • content:

        "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

      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        March 16, 2015
        When even a seemingly abstruse economic work like Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century becomes a runaway bestseller, it’s clear inequality is in the zeitgeist. Thus a work of fiction that tackles “this climactic age of American capitalism” head-on and takes its social and economic ills to satirical excess seems the perfect book of the moment—but this novel isn’t it. In Greenfeld’s (Triburbia) near future there are the few haves—the sort who fly the HeliJitney to the Hamptons and find solace in a right-wing preacher’s extreme gospel of wealth (“God wants us to have a big life, a gigantic life, a ten-thousand-square-foot-mansion-and-a-rib-eye-every-night kind of life”)—and the have-nots, a vast mass of “subprimes,” itinerant and dodging debtors’ prison for their low credit scores, who live out of cars and in tent cities built on once thriving middle-class communities. Sargam is a mysterious messiah-like figure who rides in on a motorcycle and establishes a thriving socialist community of subprimes, settled inconveniently atop drillable shale oil. During the inevitable showdown between “people helping people” and greedy corporate interests supported by a privatized police force, several flat characters have predictable epiphanies: the alienated journalist finds belonging and hope, and kids—weighed down by standardized scores and math homework—learn that playing outside is fun (“I have so rarely seen my children this free”). Though Greenfeld’s dystopian future does sound all too real, it’s true tragedy, as a novel, is that it is neither very funny nor entertaining. The people deserve more.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        March 1, 2015
        In a near future where the poor have been utterly undermined by the rich, a renegade emerges to champion the inherent good in people. After mocking urban gentrification in his debut novel (Triburbia, 2012), here Greenfeld employs the ethos of the Occupy movement in imagining how the worst tendencies of conservative power and economic greed might wreak havoc on a nation. The novel opens on a squatter's camp in California, where "Subprimes" with ruined credit ratings wander fruitlessly looking for food and shelter. We meet Sargam, a motorcycle-riding orphan whose kindness is blinding. Blessed by one young family for giving them a little money, she says, "Not God. It's just people. People helping people. That's all we got." Greenfeld pulls back the curtain on his slow apocalypse to reveal an America where roads, education, and the justice system have been privatized, with public services and schools left to crumble. In an eerie sidebar, the poisoned environment is driving whales to beach themselves in mass numbers. Greenfeld alternates his third-person narrative with a first-person perspective on current events from Richie Schwab, one of LA's last journalists, who copes by smoking potent weed and working his beat. Schwab falls in with Gemma Mack, the beleaguered wife of Arthur Mack, a hedge fund manager who famously swindled billions from his clients. Arthur is now in cahoots with "Pastor Roger," the leader of a megachurch who empowers industrialists and oil barons in the name of God-seriously, the villains here make the most single-minded Objectivists look like saints by comparison. Sargam and her tribe make their way to rural Nevada, where the Subprimes occupy a housing development and begin building a fair, equitable, and sustainable community dubbed Valence. Naturally, the bad guys learn there's fracking energy to be had beneath Valence, and the fight is on. Ain't no justice, just us. 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.

popularity
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shortDescription

A wickedly funny dystopian parody set in a financially apocalyptic future America, from the critically acclaimed author of Triburbia.

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 make them unemployable. Jobless and without assets, they've 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 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...

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