by Lydia Kiesling
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Pub Date 01 Aug 2023 | Archive Date 07 Aug 2023
Zando, Crooked Media Books
A propulsive novel about class, power, politics, and desire by the celebrated author of The Golden State.
The year is 1998, the End of History. The Soviet Union is dissolved, the Cold War is over, and Bunny Glenn is an American teenager in Azerbaijan with her Foreign Service family. Through Bunny’s eyes we watch global interests flock to the former Soviet Union during the rush for Caspian oil and pipeline access, hear rumbles of the expansion of the American security state and the buildup to the War on Terror. We follow Bunny from adolescence to middle age—from Azerbaijan to America—as the entwined idols of capitalism and ambition lead her to a career in the oil industry, and eventually back to the scene of her youth, where familiar figures reappear in an era of political and climate breakdown.
Both geopolitical exploration and domestic coming-of-age novel, Mobility is a propulsive and challenging story about class, power, politics, and desire told through the life of one woman—her social milieu, her romances, her unarticulated wants. Mobility deftly explores American forms of complicity and inertia, moving between the local and the global, the personal and the political, and using fiction’s power to illuminate the way a life is shaped by its context.
“State Department brat Bunny Glenn, Mobility's hapless, sometimes feckless, protagonist, likes her lip gloss and her Louboutins, and isn’t likely to let vaguely leftish views stand between her and her rise in the oil industry. But this sly bildungsroman has subterranean intent. A masterpiece of misdirection and a cautionary tale for our times.” ―Geraldine Brooks, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Horse
“Mobility is a beautifully written and stunningly smart novel. It's a deeply engrossing, politically astute tale of the intricacies and intimacies of our daily complicity with late capital, with the collective bargain we've all made to count calories and coins while the world burns.” ―Namwali Serpell, author of The Furrows
“This is the story of a single American life, a frank (and often funny) look at one woman’s becoming. But the accomplishment of Lydia Kiesling’s second novel is untangling the forces―politics, sex, and corporate might―that dictate all of contemporary existence. Mobility is at once a tale of family life and an indictment of capitalism itself; a truly extraordinary book.” ―Rumaan Alam, author of Leave the World Behind
“Mobility is that rare gem that has the power to transport its reader, page to page, moment to moment, while subtly building to a conclusion of cosmic profundity. One could compare the deft Kiesling to any great novelist of our time, but ultimately her exploration of complicity reminded me most of Hannah Arendt; here is a writer who sees the world so clearly that she cannot help expose us to ourselves. I put down the book feeling both grateful for this author's all-seeing honesty, and a little frightened of it.” ―Kerry Howley, author of Thrown
“Ranging from Houston to Athens to Baku, and back again, from the mid-twentieth century to the near future, Mobility is an incisive and beautifully written coming of age story set against the backdrop of the global oil industry and the climate crisis it helped bring about. With humor, insight, and a keen eye for detail, Kiesling tells the story of a young woman finding her way in the world, while at the same time exposing the greed, desire, and seemingly innocuous individual choices that have brought us to the current state of global catastrophe.” ―Michael David Lukas, author of The Last Watchman of Old Cairo
“Utterly absorbing and revelatory about the small, personal parts we play in a world we cannot comprehend. Mobility is a meticulously built stage for Kiesling’s perfectly drawn, wonderfully flawed characters to stumble across. I always see parts of myself in the pages of Kiesling’s books―the lesser angels I’m eager to hide away―and I feel less alone because of it.” ―Diane Cook, author of The New Wilderness, finalist for the Booker Prize
Lydia Kiesling is the author of The Golden State, a 2018 National Book Foundation 5 under 35 honoree, a finalist for the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award, and longlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker online, and The Cut, among other outlets. She lives in Portland, OR.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 44 members
Mobility by Lydia Kiesling is about how coming of age in the 21st century is a matter of choosing what systems you’ll be complicit in, and how those choices define you. 10/10 would recommend.
Mobility begins in the late 90s with teenage Elizabeth, whom everybody calls Bunny. Her father is a diplomat in Azerbaijan and Bunny in many ways reflects the life of a teenager in the 90s, with a little more oil and politics thrown in. Being similar in age to Bunny, I related to her quickly. The book carries us through Bunny’w life until middle age. We see her try and figure out her way and then make a career in the oil business and a life for herself. Her past often pops up in her present, presenting different conflicts throughout. In many ways Climate Change and environmental issues are secondary characters, always present and impacting the narrative but often dismissed. The book was very interesting.
I received an ARC from NetGalley.
Mobility is a spell blinding story of Elizabeth "Bunny" Glenn - the regular 1990's teenager who happens to be growing up in Azerbaijan via her families' foreign service contracts. The story bounds far and wide as we grow up with Bunny. The story is endearing and the characters are intriguing. The brilliance is achieved in the message and the demonstration of how one woman's choices can clearly assist with leading us to a climate disaster. If you love a spanning novel, geopolitics and a bit of nostalgia, Mobility is not to be missed!
#Zando #Mobility #LydiaKiesling\