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.