Monday, February 28, 2011

The Recessionists

Several new books that tackle the issues surrounding the current financial crisis. The books remind me of similar movements of artists and writers, like the Impressionists, the Surrealists and the Transcendentalists. So I’ve decided that this group of writers needs their own name: the Recessionists.

I think the Recessionists are their own sub-genre of YA literature. The challenges the characters are facing are directly related to the headlines we’ve been seeing in the mainstream media over the past three years: the failure of major Wall Street firms like Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, the impact of Ponzi schemes such as the one run by Bernie Madoff and the rising unemployment rate. This is different than a more traditional book about the struggles of a poor family or how a family copes after a parent unexpectedly loses their job. The Recessionists are responding to a broad and far-reaching economic downturn.

I’ve read two books recently that fit well into this genre. Gwendolyn Heasley’s Where I Belong and Sarah Darer Littman’s Life, After. Heasley’s book deals directly with the impact of the current recession while Littman’s Life, After is related to the economic crisis in Argentina in 2002. Both books describe how their narrators cope with the devastating and sometimes humiliating effects that these downturns have on them and their families. While Life, After is about a different recession at a different time in a different country, the story resonated strongly with me in light of what has been going on in the U.S. and the world over the past three years.

As a financial journalist in my day job, much of what Heasley describes about the fallout when Corrine’s father loses his job rang true. I heard many stories like this: parents taking their children out of expensive private schools and dramatically scaling back their lifestyles. Meanwhile, Littman’s descriptions of life in Argentina are definitely something that a young reader today who is affected by the recession could relate to. Another common thread is the lack of control both narrators have over their lives and how they have to learn to adapt to their new lives.

Who is your favorite Recessionist author?

No comments:

Post a Comment