New Star Blogs

Michael Tregebov’s The Shiva takes on the global financial crisis


John Lanchester asks the question, why aren’t there more novelists writing about serious topics like finance, then puts his money where his mouth is.

Lanchester has already published the sideproject that came out of his research for Capital (the novel). IOU: Why Everyone Owes Everyone, and No One Can Pay, which spends quite a lot of space gushing about Canada’s relatively cautious regulatory climate, and how Prime Minister Jean Chretien’s caution and antagonism towards the big banks may have been what has (so far) seen us through the shitstorm.

The Shiva by Michael TregebovNow, a new Canadian novel also tackles the topic of high finance in a fictional form. Specifically, the subject matter for Michael Tregebov’s The Shiva is the 2008 sub-prime mortgage meltdown that shattered some of the world’s biggest banks though hardly any bankers.

 The Shiva follows events as a group of mostly older Winnipeggers, friends from the casino, form a shortselling syndicate to ride the coming crash all the way to a fortune. A humorous exposition of shortselling set against the backdrop of the 2008 meltdown becomes more than a painfree economics lesson, as the scheme sets brother against brother. The financial crash sets in motion a human drama, as the brothers are forced to come to terms with each other, their mother, their late father, and their own inescapable natures. The mediator of these events is a savvy Indian, Dennis, a stock-picker and seer, who parries liberal Jewish Winnipeg’s benevolent racism with grace and aplomb.

Like Tregebov’s previous novel The Briss, The Shiva is a funny and fast-paced read, mostly relying on dialogue heavily laced with Winnipeg’s distinctive yiddish to create a strongly character-driven story. Reviewers seemed to like The Briss, Tregebov’s first novel. We think they’ll like The Shiva even more.

There’s more here about The Shiva, including information about how to obtain your very own copy.