The best books for reminding us why we should eat the rich

Who am I?

We live in a bizarre era of Elon Musk stans who seem certain that if you work hard you’ll be rewarded not only with ‘fuck you’ money, but ‘fuck everyone’ money. I think any writer worth their salt should at some point tackle the issues of their age in their writing. In our era racism, sexism, climate change, and a range of other social justice issues are all exacerbated through the improper distribution of wealth. You could give a man a fish, and he might eat for a day. Or you could eviscerate the rich, share their wealth, and throw the whole world a parade! 

I wrote...

Killing Adonis

By J.M. Donellan,

Book cover of Killing Adonis

What is my book about?

Light duties. Large pay. No questions asked—or answered. After seeing a curious flyer, Freya takes a job caring for Elijah, the comatose son of the eccentric Vincetti family. She soon discovers that the Vincetti’s labyrinthine mansion hides a wealth of secrets, their corporate rivals have a nasty habit of being extravagantly executed, and Elijah is not the saint they portray him to be.

As well, Marilyn Monroe keeps showing up, unaware she’s very much deceased. And there’s something very strange about the story that Elijah’s brother Jack is writing… It has been said that comedies always end with weddings, tragedies with funerals. This story ends with both a bride and a body count.

The books I picked & why

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By Iain Banks,

Book cover of Complicity

Why this book?

This was the first Iain Banks book I ever read, and it does not mess around. It has one of my all-time unreliable narrators in Gonzo hack Cameron Colley, a man with a personal connection to the violent crimes he’s investigating. It also features some very clever use of second person to insert the reader directly into the story. This one is certainly not for the squeamish, but Banks is one of those rare writers who can portray elaborate violence in a way that is artistic and thought-provoking rather than merely gratuitous. The fact that the book is underscored by some well-considered social critique, as well as complex, layered characters, elevates it far above a standard crime thriller. 

The Rich Man's House

By Andrew McGahan,

Book cover of The Rich Man's House

Why this book?

McGahan is one of my all-time favourites for numerous reasons. When I was a baby writer just getting started, I was so excited to have McGahan writing about my home city of Brisbane, showing all its scars and burn marks. He has an incredible knack for writing across genres, something that I think more writers should aspire to. In this case he turns his hand to an elegant take on the supernatural thriller. The supernatural elements here are uniquely and beautifully presented. There are no vampires or magic, just nature in a primal and anthropomorphic capacity. Many books are described as ‘man vs nature,’ but that relationship has never been more savagely explored than in this book. It also has the most bittersweet author’s note I’ve ever read. Gets me every time. 

The Glass Hotel

By Emily St. John Mandel,

Book cover of The Glass Hotel

Why this book?

I’m just going to say it, Station Eleven is one of the best sci-fi books of the century. I picked this up hoping for a repeat rush, but as a friend once cautioned me: ‘don’t chase that high.’ That’s not to say this isn’t a good read, it is, just that it’s dramatically different in both style and substance. The Glass House is a mystery novel, a ghost story, and a crime story. Mandel artfully explores an alternate take on the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme from the viewpoint of outsiders, a cast of artfully crafted characters. She eloquently explores ‘the kingdom of money’ and the ways that extreme wealth can separate you from reality. 

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate

By Naomi Klein,

Book cover of This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate

Why this book?

I read Klein’s No Logo as a teenager and it formed a very deep impression on me, I’ve been a follower of her work ever since. I’m constantly confused and fascinated by people who claim that the climate crisis will be solved by ‘market solutions’ despite the mountain of evidence to the contrary, much of which is skillfully unpacked here. Important and enlightening. 

My Year of Meats

By Ruth Ozeki,

Book cover of My Year of Meats

Why this book?

While I enjoyed this book while I was reading it, it was only after I’d digested it (pun intended) that I really came to appreciate its value. I think one of the real measures of an artwork is how much it sits with you in the months and years after the initial read/watch/listen, and this is one I think about often. The story follows a documentarian attempting to serve the corporate hierarchy and produce an asinine show about American wives and the meat-filled dinners they serve their husbands, but the novel gradually unfolds as a complex critique of misogyny, corporate control, Japanese and American culture, and the brutal nature of the modern livestock industry. 

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