Adam Haslett - Union Atlantic (4 stars)

Adam Haslett - Union Atlantic

(Tuskar Rock)

The post-9/11 landscape of Massachusetts in 2002 is the canvas upon which Pulitzer-shortlisted author Adam Haslett places his debut novel. With some style, he foreshadows the culture of greed and moral bankruptcy in the American financial services industry and its toppling of ‘the invisible architecture of confidence’ in our global economy.

Doug Fanning is a cold-hearted investment banker for the titular Union Atlantic. As a remorse-free naval officer in the Persian Gulf he was party to the shooting-down of an Iranian passenger jet in the 1980s and with similarly wilful ignorance of culpability, he recklessly flaunts government regulations, lining his pockets with stupendous wealth. In Fanning’s rural home town, where he’s thrown up a ‘casino of a house’, he clashes with his batty neighbour Charlotte Graves, an eccentric ex-schoolteacher with a burning hatred of Fanning and his kind, in a microcosm of idealism vs capitalism and individual vs marketplace. An immersing – if at times improbable – tale of impressive scale and vision.

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