In National Review George Will reviews the new dystopian novel, The Mandibles: A Family, 2029–2047, by Lionel Shriver

Florence learns to appreciate “the miracle of civilization.” It is miraculous because “failure and decay were the world’s natural state. What was astonishing was anything that worked as intended, for any duration whatsoever.” Laughing mordantly as the apocalypse approaches, Shriver has a gimlet eye for the foibles of today’s secure (or so it thinks) upper middle class, from Washington’s Cleveland Park to Brooklyn. About the gentrification of the latter, she observes:

“Oh, you could get a facelift nearby, put your dog in therapy, or spend $500 at Ottawa on a bafflingly trendy dinner of Canadian cuisine (the city’s elite was running out of new ethnicities whose food could become fashionable). But you couldn’t buy a screwdriver, pick up a gallon of paint, take in your dry cleaning, get new tips on your high heels, copy a key, or buy a slice of pizza. Wealthy residents might own bicycles worth $5K, but no shop within miles would repair the brakes. . . . High rents had priced out the very service sector whose presence at ready hand once helped to justify urban living.”


Will observes that dystopian novels are widely in circulation.