Jacob Wren’s Rich and Poor (BookThug) is political fiction at its sharpest. An aspiring concert pianist, reduced to working as an under-the-table dishwasher, becomes obsessed with taking violent revenge on the man he considers responsible for his plight: a billionaire oligarch who gets his kicks by, among other things, watching children fight.
Wren alternates in first-person between the two, effectively dramatizing the 99-per-cent vs. one-per-cent divide. In lesser hands it might have read as clumsy allegory, but because the two voices are equally compelling, what we get is something like an intellectual thriller.
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, Madeleine Thien heads class of 2016, but don't stop reading there
Wren’s novel opens with a poor man planning to kill a rich one, but,
with a crisis at the halfway mark, things get messy and the greater
violence, the brutality of the economic system, reveals itself. Rich and Poor reminds us that art can be resistance, and our love,
- Jade Colbert’s Favourite Canadian Small Press Books of 2016