LORD know this book does not need any more praise, but I want to wave the tattered American flag for George Packer’s The Unwinding, which just won the National Book Award. The book is not perfect — more on that in a minute — but it is lyrical, powerfully reported, passionately written, and lives up to its subtitle: “An Inner History of the New America.”
As research for my own Creative Destruction, I’ve spent the last year or two reading numerous books of social criticism, going back to the mid-century American generation of Vance Packard, and up through Barbara Ehrenreich and others, and this book makes an excellent extension of that tradition. (It is also self-consciously in the oft-overlooked tradition of Dos Passos’s U.S.A. trilogy.)
Dwight Garner, in the New York Times, wrote about the potentially unwieldy number of piece that make up The Unwinding, some of which originated in The New Yorker. Here’s Garner:
Postscript: As a reader, and an Angeleno, I am disappointed that Rachel Kushner’s The Flame Throwers, a captivating novel about the New York art scene and ’70s Italy, did not take the fiction prize. Both of Rachel’s novels (The Other is Telex From Cuba) have been greeted with great acclaim (I am lucky enough to have written about both of them), she is as sharp a person as we know, and here at The Misread City we are confident that she will live to write and fight again.