…and no, I’m not talking about pro-forma income statements, but about actual novels.
Howard Davis, writing in Financial Times (8/22) says:
It is often said, with some justification, that there is no current British novelist who shows an interest in, and understanding of business life to match, say, Tom Wolfe. I can think of no fictional representation of the flora and fauna of London’s financial markets to rival The Bonfire of the Vanities. Nor can I imagine a British novelist who could write a magnificent novel about an estate agent, like Richard Ford’s recent The Lay of the Land.
Actually, it seems to me that serious recent novels that deal with business are pretty scarce on both sides of the Atlantic. Right off, I can think of a couple:
There’s Tom Wolfe’s A Man in Full, in my view a much better piece of work than Bonfire. I also liked Nice Work, by David Lodge, which is about the relationship between Vic, the general manager of a British foundry, and Robyn, a university lecturer in 19th century literature.
There are also a few nonfiction business books that are so intense and/or well-written that they would have made good novels if they hadn’t been real. Father, Son, and Company, by Tom Watson Jr of IBM, falls in this category. So does On the Rails, by Linda Niemann, a PhD who took a job as a brakeman for the Southern Pacific Railroad. (My review of the Niemann book here.)
What other recent business novels are out there? Any other business memoirs of literary quality?