One of our Books of the Year 2016.
Shortlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction 2016.
Whimsical yet sharp and perceptive, ‘The Portable Veblen’ is an absolute treat of a read. Veblen is eccentrically wonderful, she lives in California, is followed by a squirrel and has a fiancé (yes the order of the squirrel and fiancé is deliberate). Veblen is influenced by Thorstein Veblen, an American sociologist and economist, her fiancé Paul is apparently influenced by achievement and success, and is determined to rid Veblen’s attic of its noisy invader. Occasional photos, letters and little extras crop up through the book, making the journey from beginning to end feel even more intense and physically real. At times I felt as though I was floating directly above Veblen, connected yet apart, and able to pick up on the smallest but most significant details. Elizabeth McKenzie writes with a beautifully considered yet free hand, with my feelings ranging from amused to curious, frustrated to sympathetic, and I also fell in love with a squirrel. This is a book to keep near at hand, a book to love and to cherish, to savour and to treasure. ~ Liz Robinson
February 2016 Debut of the Month.
Meet Veblen: a passionate defender of the anti-consumerist views of her name-sake, the iconoclastic economist Thorstein Veblen. She's an experienced cheerer-upper (mainly of her narcissistic, hypochondriac, controlling mother), an amateur translator of Norwegian, and a firm believer in the distinct possibility that the plucky grey squirrel following her around can understand more than it lets on. Meet her fiance, Paul: the son of good hippies who were bad parents, a no-nonsense, high-flying neuroscientist with no time for squirrels. His recent work on a device to minimize battlefield trauma has led him dangerously close to the seductive Cloris Hutmacher, heiress to a pharmaceuticals empire, who is promising him fame and fortune through a shady-sounding deal with the Department of Defence. What could possibly go wrong?
'Man oh man, do I love this book! Audacious, imaginative, and totally wonderful: The whole books zips and zings'
Karen Joy Fowler, author of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
'The Portable Veblen is the squirreliest novel I ever read. I enjoyed it completely'
Ursula K. Le Guin, author of The Dispossessed and The Left Hand of Darkness
'A deeply observed universe where heroines are named for economists and the high stakes of capitalism are set to collide with the chatter of small wild animals. Both humorous and wrenching'
Samantha Hunt, author of The Invention of Everything Else and Mr. Splitfoot
Publication date: 19/01/2016
Publisher: Fourth Estate Ltd an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
|Publication date:||19th January 2016|
|Publisher:||Fourth Estate Ltd an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers|
|Genres:||Debuts of the Month, eBook Favourites, Family Drama, Literary Fiction, Relationship Stories,|
|Categories:||Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945),|
Elizabeth McKenzie's work has appeared in the New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, Best American Nonrequired Reading, and the Pushcart Prize anthology. She lives in Santa Cruz, California. Author photo © Linda Ozaki Below is a Q&A with this author. What I’m reading: Turtle Diary by Russell HobanWhat I’m listening to: The Dead Sailor Girls, Neil FinnWhat I’m watching: The AmericansFavourite word(s): homunculus + pseudo Favourite song: And Your Bird Can SingYour hero – literary or otherwise: Roger FedererThe book you wish you’d written/The book that everyone should ...More About Elizabeth McKenzie