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49th Shelf Most Anticipated Spring 2016 Fiction Selection
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Who hasn’t, at one time or another, considered killing a billionaire?
Rich and Poor is a novel of a man who washes dishes for a living and decides to kill a billionaire as a political act. It is literature as political theory and theory as pure literary pleasure—a spiralling, fast-paced parable of joyous, overly self-aware, mischievous class warfare.
As his plan proceeds and becomes more feasible, the story cuts back and forth between his and the billionaire’s perspectives, gradually revealing how easily the poisons of ambition, wealth and revolutionary violence can become entangled. A fable of not knowing how to change the world and perhaps learning how to do so in the process.
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Praise for Rich and Poor:
“For far too long, literature has deemed it inconvenient to speak about the rich and the poor. Jacob Wren’s intriguing novel calls this notion into question. Details, short impressions, the very temperature of fleeting events—these are what make this book great, precisely because it deliberately eschews all bombast. The narrative, in the way it projects the past as a perpetual present, produces in the reader the illusion of being inside a manual of minutiae, being written alongside the act of reading itself. Wren’s ability to speak about the abstruse and unusual, hidden in all that is profane in our social comings and goings, forms the basis of the novel’s magnificent and defining concept, one that does not seek to be a testimony, but rather, to be rapturous metaphor.” —Sergio Chejfec
Additional Praise for Jacob Wren:
“Everything Jacob Wren touches interests me, excites me. He’s both sophisticated and innocent in attitude. He’s a kind of wise, old man and open-hearted lover. With his vivacious ideas, wordplay, and the serious and inane served up on the same plate—Wren lifts my spirits, intellectual and other, because to know he’s writing so beautifully in this mad, sad world is a wonderful thing.” —Lynne Tillman
“As with Wren’s previous work, Rich and Poor is art in resistance, a work that dares to remind us of our capacity for revolutionary love despite the prevailing economic system’s structural violence.” —Jade Colbert, The Globe and Mail
“Wren’s new novel, Rich and Poor, is more than a critique of capitalism and profit-obsessed society. It’s a parable examining corporate culture — the way it makes us calculating, unscrupulous and ultimately disposable.” —The Toronto Star
“Rich and Poor is a populist parable for our polarized times.” —Ian McGillis, Montreal Gazette
“Stoic yet provocative, Rich and Poor plunges the reader into a deep psychology of activism, politics, business, and how they all mesh together.” —Largehearted Boy
“Rich and Poor is a timely and well-considered story. There are plenty of surprising moments…. as well as real insights into issues of wealth inequality that so often dominate the headlines.” —Mark Sampson, Quill and Quire
“The dream of a Marxist revolution is alive and well in Rich and Poor.” —Dan Twerdochlib, The Winnipeg Review
“Neither Job Shadowing [by Malcolm Sutton] nor Rich and Poor can be described as realistic works of fiction, and yet at the same time both are directly concerned with some of the most pressing and talked-about social issues of our time: the widening gap between an economic elite and everyone else, and the generational conflict between older haves and younger have-nots.” —Alex Good, Canadian Notes and Queries
“Rich and Poor is essential and bracing reading, especially at a time when millions of poor Americans can convince themselves that a rich man is their champion. ” —Ian McGillis, Montreal Gazette
Interviews and Profiles:
In Dialogue With Reality: Jacob Wren’s Rich and Poor —ArtInfo
Rusty Talk with Jacob Wren —Jacqueline Valencia, The Rusty Toque
Rich and Poor is a Parable on the Problem with Capitalism —Melita Kuburas, Metro News
An Interview with Jacob Wren —words(on)pages
Of Panama Papers and Poetry: Jacob Wren on Rich and Poor —Canadian Art
Jacob Wren: Occupy Literature —Montreal Review of Books
Tuesday Morning After-Literary Report, an Interview with Jacob Wren —Radio CKUT 90.3 FM
The Globe 100: Best Books of 2016 —Jade Colbert, The Globe and Mail
Jacob Wren makes literature, performances and exhibitions. His books include: Unrehearsed Beauty, Families Are Formed Through Copulation, Revenge Fantasies of the Politically Dispossessed and Polyamorous Love Song (a finalist for the 2013 Fence Modern Prize in Prose and one of the Globe and Mail’s 100 best books of 2014). As co-artistic director of Montréal-based interdisciplinary group PME-ART he has co-created the performances: En français comme en anglais, it’s easy to criticize, Individualism Was A Mistake, The DJ Who Gave Too Much Information and Every Song I’ve Ever Written. He travels internationally with alarming frequency and frequently writes about contemporary art. Connect with him on his blog (www.radicalcut.blogspot.com) or on Twitter @everySongIveEve.