Lionel Shriver wasn’t thinking Trump when she wrote about Mexico wall

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Lionel Shriver didn’t know there would be talk of a ‘President Trump’ and a ‘Great Wall of Mexico’ when she wrote ‘The Mandibles: A Family, 2029–2047.’

She didn’t know that in May 2016, the world would be talking about Donald Trump’s bizarre notion of a great deal for America, which is to say devaluing the safe-asset status of US Treasury bonds and potentially knocking the financial world order askew.

And yet Ms Shriver has written a novel for our times, for all that it is set in the future and revolves around a family with a strange name.

The Mandibles are American and they, like the country, are in difficult circumstances.

Mexico has built a Great Wall to keep out American migrants desperately seeking better lives over the southern border.

Americans are leaving the country in droves. The US has a national debt so huge it can never be repaid, a new international reserve currency, the bancor, has sent the dollar into meltdown, a bloodless world war is draining what little money Americans have.
America is a police state and everyone has a chip embedded in their neck. Nevada has broken away and is now the United State of Nevada.

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It’s interesting that this novel about an imagined dystopia comes at roughly the same time as journalist David Rieff’s ‘In Praise of Forgetting: Historical Memory and Its Ironies’. Everyone’s been heaping praise on his idea — better to forget than to remember, it’s healthier, more therapeutic that way — forgetting that Vedic philosophy has always prescribed letting go after a period of grief.

Anyway, that’s not the point of mentioning Mr Rieff’s book alongside Lionel Shriver’s. I just wonder if we’re getting to the point where a surfeit of archival material — not just in libraries but on our roads, in collective memory banks — is becoming so contentious and difficult to manage, we prefer imagined faux-histories like The Mandibles?

Originally published at www.rashmee.com on May 14, 2016.

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Journalism by trade & inclination. PhD. Sign up for free email updates on https://www.rashmee.com email me at rashmee@rashmee.com http://muckrack.com/rashmeerl

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