Ron Butlin – Billionaires' Banquet (3 stars)

Ron Butlin – Billionaires' Banquet

Satirical exploration of what it means to be a part of high society at the height of Thatcherism

There's a satirical edge that's laced into every word Ron Butlin writes, and in Billionaire's Banquet, that is well harnessed. The language is sharp, funny and considered, and lends credence to Butlin's reputation as an author of tremendous talent. But the author's obvious way with words aside, this Thatcher-era meditation on the fluctuance of society is somewhat lacking.

When we are introduced to the central characters (The Cat and Hume) they are indulging themselves as ever-so-liberal students. They have casual sex with each other. They give each other irritating nicknames. They go to a party, talk about philosophy, then have some more casual sex. The problem is, it doesn't really progress from there. The characters are hidden behind stereotypical tropes, and remain two dimensional pawns in a fraught game of social chess.

Butlin scratches the surface of niche societal commentary, exploring what it means to be a part of high society at the height of Thatcherism. And while this novel has some strong moments, they don't weave together well enough for its big message to make a big enough impact. Butlin can write, alright. But there's a bigger story there that he hasn't managed to tell.

Out Sat 15 Apr (Salt Publishing).

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