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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

The Unfolding by A.M. Homes

It’s 2008 and America has just elected its first black president. The Big Guy - a lifelong Republican donor - is beside himself: how the heck did this happen?

What "unfolds" next is more like a complete unravelling, as the Big Guy’s world falls further apart: his wife, Charlotte, is committed to a Betty Ford clinic, and his 18-year-old daughter, Megan, having dutifully voted for McCain and accompanied her parents to party headquarters on election night, now appears to be experimenting with something equally as dangerous as her mother: thinking for herself.

In moving forward, the Big Guy focuses on what he thinks he can fix first: politics. He corrals a group of like-minded men, with pockets and senses of entitlement as large as his own, to think big about how they can reorder the natural order of things, to re-establish their particular concept of democracy.

The goings-on at their conclaves are hilarious - and marvellously prescient: in media interviews Homes has said she started writing the book (which took her a decade to write) to explore how America got to where it is now before Trump had thrown his hat in the ring.

Not being completely au fait with American politics, I sometimes felt like some of the dialogue and references went over my head. Also if you like neat endings, you may be a little disappointed… the ending was so abrupt, you wonder if Homes painted herself into a corner or ran out of ideas.

I didn’t enjoy The Unfolding as much as Homes’ brilliant May We Be Forgiven - which scored the Women’s Prize for 2013 - but it’s still worth a read. Absorbing this darkly funny political satire is like watching an extended episode of Veep.

Reviewer: Stacey Anyan

Allen & Unwin


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