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The book is set in the United States in 2029 during a debt crisis that results in the collapse of the country's economy and the rise of a supranational currency, bancor, led by a group of countries. The United States is deliberately excluded from this group, a move that causes President Dante Alvarado to take drastic measures, which include resetting the national debt. Any and all gold now belongs to the government, and owning bancors will result in treason charges. Treasury bonds are now null and void, which results in the bankruptcy of many. One family, the Mandibles, are hit particularly hard by the devaluation of American currency, as they were all expecting to inherit an enormous fortune from the family's patriarch. Now they are unable to continue living in their former lifestyles and they are willing to go to any length to ensure survival.

The novel is divided into two parts. The first, which takes place between 2029 and 2032, establishes characters from four generations of the Mandible family: the wealthy patriarch; his children, now in their 60s; his young-middle-age grandchildren and their partners; and his teenage great grandchildren. The story begins with events just before the Great Renunciation and ends three years later with the family fleeing the chaos and social breakdown around their home in Brooklyn to live in upstate New York. The second part takes place in 2047, and follows the now middle-aged great grandchildren (and the patriarch's sole surviving daughter, now in her 90s) as they strike out, once again, to find refuge from an increasingly authoritarian United States government in the separatist enclave of Nevada.

The Mandibles

SKU: 4552
  • Lionel Shriver
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