Mobility

Lydia Kiesling

A propulsive novel about class, power, politics, and desire by the celebrated author of The Golden State

 

ISBN

9781638930563

Language

English

Page count

352

Edition

Hardcover

Sale date

August 1, 2023

Dimensions

6 x 9

About the Book

The year is 1998, the End of History. The Soviet Union is dissolved, the Cold War is over, and Bunny Glenn is an American teenager in Azerbaijan with her Foreign Service family. Through Bunny’s eyes we watch global interests flock to the former Soviet Union during the rush for Caspian oil and pipeline access, hear rumbles of the expansion of the American security state and the buildup to the War on Terror. We follow Bunny from adolescence to middle age—from Azerbaijan to America—as the entwined idols of capitalism and ambition lead her to a career in the oil industry, and eventually back to the scene of her youth, where familiar figures reappear in an era of political and climate breakdown.


Both geopolitical exploration and domestic coming-of-age novel, Mobility is a propulsive and challenging story about class, power, politics, and desire told through the life of one woman—her social milieu, her romances, her unarticulated wants. Mobility deftly explores American forms of complicity and inertia, moving between the local and the global, the personal and the political, and using fiction’s power to illuminate the way a life is shaped by its context.

Reviews

State Department brat Bunny Glenn, Mobility‘s hapless, sometimes feckless, protagonist, likes her lip gloss and her Louboutins, and isn’t likely to let vaguely leftish views stand between her and her rise in the oil industry. But this sly bildungsroman has subterranean intent. A masterpiece of misdirection and a cautionary tale for our times.

- Geraldine Brooks, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Horse

Mobility is a beautifully written and stunningly smart novel. It’s a deeply engrossing, politically astute tale of the intricacies and intimacies of our daily complicity with late capital, with the collective bargain we’ve all made to count calories and coins while the world burns.

- Namwali Serpell, author of The Furrows

This is the story of a single American life, a frank (and often funny) look at one woman’s becoming. But the accomplishment of Lydia Kiesling’s second novel is untangling the forces—politics, sex, and corporate might—that dictate all of contemporary existence. Mobility is at once a tale of family life and an indictment of capitalism itself; a truly extraordinary book.

- Rumaan Alam, author of Leave the World Behind

Ranging from Houston to Athens to Baku, and back again, from the mid 20th century to the near future, Mobility is an incisive and beautifully written coming of age story set against the backdrop of the global oil industry and the climate crisis it helped bring about. With humor, insight, and a keen eye for detail, Kiesling tells the story of a young woman finding her way in the world, while at the same time exposing the greed, desire, and seemingly innocuous individual choices that have brought us to the current state of global catastrophe.

- Michael David Lukas, author of The Last Watchman of Old Cairo

Mobility is that rare gem that has the power to transport its reader, page to page, moment to moment, while subtly building to a conclusion of cosmic profundity. One could compare the deft Kiesling to any great novelist of our time, but ultimately her exploration of complicity reminded me most of Hannah Arendt; here is a writer who sees the world so clearly that she cannot help expose us to ourselves.  I put down the book feeling both grateful for this author’s all-seeing honesty, and a little frightened of it.

- Kerry Howley, author of Thrown