Novels That Tackle Current Events
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In his latest novel, Salman Rushdie will take on Trump's rise in the age of Obama. Set between the 2008 election of Barack Obama and the rise of Donald Trump, The Golden House centers on an up-and-coming young filmmaker, "whose involvement with a secretive, tragedy-haunted family teaches him how to become a man." Along the way, he encounters the big news items of the day, including the Tea Party frenzy and Gamergate.

Rushdie's novel is one of many contemporary works to tackle the events of recent history. The last decade and a half is now ripe for retelling, and authors aren't shying away from using 9/11, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Great Recession, natural disasters, and environmental crises to inform and inspire their fiction. As the years wind on, we're sure to see novels set during the Flint Water Crisis, in modern-day Cuba, or against the backdrop of Trump's immigration order.

Unfortunately, you'll have to wait until September to get your hands on Salman Rushdie's The Golden House, but there are plenty of novels set in recent history that you can read right now. Check out the five I've selected for you below, and be sure to share your favorites with me on Twitter!


'The Futures' by Anna Pitoniak

Small-town hockey player Evan has landed an enviable position at a prestigious hedge fund firm, while Brookline-born Julia is working as an assistant at a non-profit through parental connections. The recent Yale grads are still trying to figure out adult life, but the year is 2008, and the housing bubble is about to collapse on top of them.

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'Salvage the Bones' by Jesmyn Ward

In Bois Sauvage, Mississippi, four motherless siblings scrape together what little they have to prepare for the coming storm. Randall plans to get out of Bois Sauvage on a basketball scholarship, Esch is secretly pregnant by Randall's best friend, and Skeetah has a fresh litter of fighting-dog puppies to care for and sell. On top of all that, little Junior is only six, their father is a semi-employed drunk, and no one knows what to expect from this hurricane they call Katrina.

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'Juliet Takes a Breath' by Gabby Rivera

After she reads her first feminist book, Juliet Palante writes a letter to the author and winds up with the offer of a lifetime: her heroine, Harlowe Brisbane, wants her to fly out to Portland for a summer internship. The 19-year-old comes out to her Puerto Rican family before she leaves, and she fully expects to be more accepted on the West Coast. But Juliet feels out of place in mostly white Portland, where everyone speaks in feminist terms she doesn't understand, and she soon wonders whether she made the right decision in trusting her favorite writer.

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'Behold the Dreamers' by Imbolo Mbue

Cameroonian immigrants Jende and Neni Jonga have come to the U.S. in search of a better life for their 6-year-old son. After he drives a cab for a while, Jende lands a job working as personal chauffeur to Clark Edwards, a Lehman Brothers executive, who hires Neni as a housekeeper in his family's second home. Everything seems to be working out, but good times for both the Jongas and Edwardses are coming swiftly to an end. Lehman Brothers is going under in the housing market crash, and Jende's petition for asylum is jeopardized by deceit.

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'Heat & Light' by Jennifer Haigh

The farmers of Bakerton, Pennsylvania have been visited by Dark Elephant Energy: a Texas company that promises big profits for those who allow natural gas drilling beneath their fields and pastures. For a small town that once ran on coal mining, it seems like a win-win. But, in reality, Dark Elephant Energy's "drilling" is a fracking operation, one that leaves deep scars on Bakerton long after the project has dried up.

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