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.