“Mobility” by Lydia Kiesling
August 31, 2023
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 Houston, Texas—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.
“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, Fall 2022 LARB Book Club title
Lydia Kiesling is the author of The Golden State, a 2018 National Book Foundation “5 under 35” honoree, and a finalist for the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award. Her second novel, Mobility, was published by Crooked Media Reads in August 2023. Her essays and nonfiction have been published in outlets including The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker online, and The Cut.
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