You Don't Have to Live Like This
Ten years out of Yale, with an extra degree from Oxford, and all Greg Marnier has to show for it is a rambling academic career that has landed him in Aberystwyth. At his college reunion, jetlagged and drunk, he runs into an old friend who offers him an extraordinary way out. Robert James, wealthy and influential, a success story of the dotcom bubble, wants to become a political player. His plan: to buy up several abandoned neighbourhoods in Detroit - the poster child for urban decline - and build a new America from their boarded-up ruins. For a small investment, Marnier can transform himself into a twenty-first-century pioneer. The realities of life on America's urban frontier soon become apparent. For every hopeful misfit who's come for a fresh start there's a native Detroiter whose patch is being swallowed up by the new colonials. Marnier finds himself caught in the middle of everyone else's battles - between local and outsider, rich and poor, black and white - until a terrible accident forces him to take sides.
From one of Granta's Best of Young British Novelists comes a darkly comic and brutally insightful vision of contemporary America in the wake of the global financial crisis.
Benjamin Markovits grew up in Texas, London and Berlin. He is the author of six previous novels: The Syme Papers, Either Side of Winter, Imposture, A Quiet Adjustment, Playing Days and Childish Loves. He has published essays, stories, poetry and reviews on subjects ranging from the Romantics to American sports in the Guardian, Granta, The Paris Review and The New York Times, among other publications. He lives in London and teaches creative writing at Royal Holloway, University of London.