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The Portable Veblen

by Elizabeth McKenzie

Book Club Recommendations eBooks of the Month Family Drama Modern and Contemporary Fiction Relationship Stories

LoveReading View on The Portable Veblen

One of our Books of the Year 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.

Shortlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction 2016.

Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.

Liz Robinson

The Portable Veblen Synopsis

SHORTLISTED FOR THE BAILEYS WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION 2016 A laugh-out-loud love story with big ideas - and squirrels Can squirrels speak? Do snails scream? Will a young couple, newly engaged, make it to their wedding day? Will their dysfunctional families ruin everything? Will they be undone by the advances of a very sexy, very unscrupulous heiress to a pharmaceuticals corporation? Is getting married even a remotely reasonable idea in the twenty-first century? And what in the world is a 'Veblen' anyway?

The Portable Veblen Press Reviews

'Man oh man, do I love this book! Audacious, imaginative and totally wonderful'
Karen Joy Fowler

'I can't remember a book I enjoyed more'
Nina Stibbe

'Smart, funny, charming and profound. Elizabeth McKenzie is clearly some sort of genius'
Paul Murray

'The squirreliest novel I ever read. I enjoyed it completely'
Ursula K. Le Guin

'Raw and weird and hilarious ... very entertaining'
Scarlett Thomas, Guardian

'Ambitious, spirited, funny, daring'
Financial Times

'A touching, wildly funny and peculiarly elegant look at the travails of love of all kinds'
Sunday Express

'Utterly charming. A true joy of a book'
Irish Examiner

'Full of life and humour and compassion'
Times Literary Supplement

'Darkly funny, irrepressibly quirky and very, very hard to put down'
Sam Baker, The Pool

'Quirky and smart. If you loved Karen Joy Fowler's We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, you'll love this'

'Wildly brilliant. Razor-sharp, intimate, hilarious and profound. Every page is a delight'
Emma Jane Unsworth

'Terrifically entertaining ... hard to resist'
Daily Mail

'Offbeat, thoughtful, mischievous ... McKenzie [has] a pin-sharp eye for the tragic-comic, and for dialogue'
Herald (Scotland)

'A novel of festive originality'
The New York Times

'Unforgettable. A wild ride that you will not want to miss'
San Francisco Chronicle

'If The Portable Veblen has a flaw, it is that its caricatures are so on the nose as to make the reader hope to flee the human race'
Boston Globe

'Oddball characters and plot turns abound, including talking squirrels and bureaucratic ironies worthy of Catch-22. But a sober question occupies its core: Do our parents' best intentions do us harm?
Minneapolis Star Tribune

'Accurately and funnily capture[s] the complexities of modern families ... The Corrections meets The Wallcreeper'
Huffington Post

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9780008160395
Publication date: 26/01/2017
Publisher: Fourth Estate Ltd an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9780008160630
Publication date: 19/01/2016
Publisher: Fourth Estate Ltd an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
Format: Paperback

Book Information

ISBN: 9780008160395
Publication date: 26th January 2017
Author: Elizabeth McKenzie
Publisher: Fourth Estate Ltd an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 448 pages
Genres: Book Club Recommendations, eBook Favourites, Family Drama, Modern and Contemporary Fiction, Relationship Stories,
Collections: 80+ Books That Deliver a Hug , 50+ Beautifully Written Books, 40+ Quirky Novels - a little different and totally fabulous.,
Categories: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945),

About Elizabeth McKenzie

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

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