Billfold Book Club, Summer Edition: Karl Taro Greenfeld’s ‘The Subprimes’

Need a beach read for this summer? The Billfold Book Club has got you covered. Our next selection, sent in by one of our trusty readers, is Karl Taro Greenfeld’s The Subprimes.

The Subprimes is set in what I assume is the near future, where the majority of jobs are automated, the gig economy has taken over, and anyone unlucky enough to fall behind on their debt payments due to lack of income is labeled a Subprime: unemployable, unrentable, and unable to cross state lines without running the risk of being thrown into “the Halliburton-, Bechtel-, or Pepper Industries-Operated Credit Rehabilitation Centers.”

Yes, this is a comedy, but it’s a dark comedy. Early in the novel one of our characters is stopped by a police officer, who harangues him for having children without being able to provide for them, in the manner of commenters on today’s Washington Post or New York Times articles. How dare you have a family, he suggests. Didn’t you know that someday you would be poor? In this world, anyone who isn’t rich is, eventually, poor.

So grab your copy of The Subprimes at your favorite book retailer or public library, and plan to discuss it on Tuesday, June 30. I’m excited — and a little nervous — to see how closely this near future fiction resembles our current financial reality.

Photo credit: LWYang

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