Book Talk: 'Subprimes' depicts dystopia built on unregulated capitalism

In journalist Karl Taro Greenfeld’s new novel, “The Subprimes,” millions of indebted Americans live in encampments where they constantly face the prospect of eviction and imprisonment in “credit rehabilitation centers.”

The minimum wage has been abolished. Global warming has turned much of the country into a desert.

The book, set sometime in the future, describes what can happen if the government ends most regulation and privatizes most of its functions.

Greenfeld spoke to Reuters about politics and fiction.

Q: What prompted you to write this novel?

A: I felt that contemporary fiction, or a lot of contemporary fiction, wasn’t addressing economic or political realities and challenges. While many writers were writing about different types of dystopia, I felt the most likely cause of the greatest duress and trauma for the population was some of the proposed and even implemented economic policies of our time …

And I was looking at different party platforms, particularly from some of the Tea Party groups, and looking at what would happen if some of these economic policies were actually implemented …

With that in mind, it’s a novel and not an economic treatise so there are certain creative liberties taken by the author.

Q: What sort of creative liberties?

A: People who favor wholesale deregulation of the economy would say, actually no, it would set free the job creators; it would cause widespread prosperity. I happen to be from the more liberal side of the political spectrum, and I see the implementation of the policies as being disastrous.

Q: What kind of research did you do for the book?

A: I’ve been a business writer for a number of publications for many years so I had a long time to think long and hard about the nexus of big business and government.

Q: Do you see the world of “The Subprimes” as inevitable?

A: I don’t think it’s inevitable. I see it as one of the logical extrapolations of where we are now – unless something changes. One of the reasons I wrote this novel is in the hopes that more people will realize that something has to change, that the direction we’re headed in is untenable. And that we won’t like the society that we’re creating, but by the time we’re there, it’s very hard to undo.

(Editing by Patricia Reaney and Andrew Hay)

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