At the heart of Union Atlantic lies a test of wills between a young banker, Doug Fanning, and a retired schoolteacher, Charlotte Graves, whose two dogs have begun to speak to her. When Doug builds an ostentatious mansion on land that Charlotte's grandfather donated to the town of Finden, Massachusetts, she determines to oust him in court. As a senior manager of Union Atlantic bank, a major financial conglomerate, Doug is embroiled in the company's struggle to remain afloat. It is Charlotte's brother, Henry Graves, the president of the New York Federal Reserve, who must keep a watchful eye on Union Atlantic and the entire financial system. Drawn into Doug and Charlotte's intensifying conflict is Nate Fuller, a troubled high-school senior who unwittingly stirs powerful emotions in each of them.
Irresistibly complex, imaginative, and witty, Union Atlantic is a singular work of fiction that is sure to be read and reread long after it causes a sensation this spring.
Adam Haslett has absorbed the newspaper headlines and reimagined them as a pitch-perfect, tightly plotted novel of a singular moment in all-too-recent American history.... Union Atlantic is a novel sent into the future, a novel so embedded in its time that, like The Great Gatsby or Bonfire of the Vanities, it will epitomize a specific cultural moment to later generations... Haslett brings into embodiment the individual desires that power the global financial network. (Reviewed by Amy Reading).
Readers will get an economics lessons wrapped in a literary novel packed with gorgeous prose and the punch of a first-rate thriller.
Starred Review. This book should be of interest to readers fascinated but perplexed by the current financial crisis, as it is able to navigate the oubliette of Wall Street trading to create searing and intimate drama.
The first great novel of the new century. It's big and ambitious, like novels used to be. It's about us, now. All of us
The Washington Post - Ron Charles
It's a profound, strikingly intelligent story about the cost of living in a world in which real values have been supplanted by a fiat currency of self-interest and empty promises.
The New York Times - Liesl Schillinger
In Union Atlantic, swiftly and confidently, Haslett unwinds the ball of yarn that is the global financial crisis to reveal its core: a knot of ineluctable yearnings and individual needs.
Adam Haslett's page-turner of a debut novel ranges brilliantly from the Strait of Hormuz to the outskirts of Boston to the belly of the financial beast—New York's Federal Reserve. It explains to me, with humor and style and generosity, how we became America in the year 2009. A must read.
Adam Haslett has the rarest of talents: the ability to combine a powerful intelligence with storytelling that is both elegant and suspenseful, and to break your heart in the process. Union Atlantic is a masterful portrait of our age.
Many of the reviews and articles about Union Atlantic (like this one, or this one) laud Adam Haslett for writing about the collapse of the financial markets before it happened. He handed his editor a first draft of the book the week that Lehman Brothers folded in 2008, one of the events that precipitated the current recession. But the book is set much earlier, in the spring, summer, and fall of 2002, and one of the book's pleasures is the way it nominates this particular moment for historical attention. In the long shadow of the 9/11 attacks, some of the events that crop up in the novel include:
The housing bubble: When the dot com bubble burst in 2000, the Federal Reserve cut interest rates, making mortgages a cheap and safe place for newly skittish investors to park their money. Large investment banks bought mortgages from local banks, grouped them by how risky they were, and sold them as securities to investors. Investors became so hungry for mortgage-backed securities that lenders began lowering the criteria for obtaining a mortgage, thus...
In a New York City made phantasmagorical by the events of 9/11, Hans - a banker originally from the Netherlands - finds himself marooned among the strange occupants of the Chelsea Hotel after his English wife and son return to London.
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