THE SUCKER by Kumar Vellal


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Vellal’s debut novel tells the story of a troubled man who comes to Wall Street looking for answers.

J Cavanaugh arrives in Manhattan for a job interview with the prestigious Wall Street firm of Drake and Steiner. Despite his lack of experience, he’s hired at once, thanks to the influence of his financier father, Ian Maxwell. J sees his new job as a chance to have a normal life for the first time. He was raised by his disturbed mother, Maxwell’s mistress, and after leaving home, he spent most of his life in a Seattle psychiatric clinic. As a result, he knows almost nothing about how regular people behave, but he thinks he’ll have the chance to prove himself at Drake and Steiner. Unfortunately, his boss, Michael Edwards, hired him only as a favor to his father and has no intention of giving J real work. As the financial crisis unfolds, the firm suffers huge losses and lays off many of its employees. Meanwhile, J begins to struggle with his delusion that the Jews, who his mother said were responsible for the death of Christ, are behind the economic crisis and spitefully throwing families out of their homes. He eventually believes that he’s destined to become a new Christ, equal to the original, and as he grows more dissatisfied with his job, he begins to wonder if he’ll have to destroy the “creatures” behind the economic disaster. Soon, he becomes obsessed with the idea that executives at Drake and Steiner and other Wall Street firms are literal vampires, out to destroy humanity. Vellal’s portrayal of a man sliding deeper and deeper into insanity is disturbingly vivid. He uses memorable flashbacks to gradually build a picture of J's distorted home life and the baleful influence of his fanatical, mentally ill mother. Although the prose can be awkward in spots, it will likely draw many readers into J’s fun-house world with its unnerving clarity.

A disturbing vision of the financial crisis as seen through the eyes of a madman.

Pub Date: Dec. 23rd, 2012
Page count: 182pp
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 2013


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