A book about the Ir­ish bank­ing sys­tem is the fun­ni­est thing you’ ll read this fall.

ELLE Man (Canada) - - CULTURE -

To be c l e a r : I r i s h a ut hor Paul Mur­ray doesn’t think that the cat­a­strophic eco­nomic col­lapse that be­fell his coun­try af­ter the global re­ces­sion is any­thing to be made light of. But is it a great back­drop for a satir­i­cal story about the bizarre world of in­vest­ment bank­ing circa 2008? Of course, says the author of The Mark and the Void:

Banks (un­less they’re be­ing robbed) aren’t gen­er­ally the first place peo­ple think to set nov­els.... “There are some very dark things that have been hap­pen­ing in the world of financial cap­i­tal­ism for some time, but if it’s just me say­ing over and over ‘Banks are bad,’ it would be a very bor­ing read. But once you bur­row into it, the lives of bankers and the ac­tual op­er­a­tions of a ma­jor in­vest­ment bank are be­yond par­ity.”

Much of the hu­mour in this book comes from the way you cap­ture the weird­ness of of­fice life. How did you find the funny there? “When you die, the great­est con­tri­bu­tion your life will have is what­ever you spent 40 hours a week do­ing, week in and week out, for 40 years. That’s fer­tile ground for hu­mour.”

The hero of this book is Claude, a bank em­ployee who feels like what he does is mean­ing­less so he ends up re­cruit­ing a down-and-out nov­el­ist to “write” him a more mean­ing­ful life. Is that empti­ness the “void” in the book ti­tle? “In­stead of Claude say­ing ‘Well, this job doesn’t help any­body or make the world bet­ter at all, and maybe that’s why I feel like I’m liv­ing in a void,’ he says ‘Maybe I can find some nar­ra­tive that I can hook on to and that will make me in­ter­est­ing.’ It’s an ado­les­cent fan­tasy that you’ll find some job that will tick all your boxes or be per­fectly ful­fill­ing or give your life mean­ing.”

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