The Portable Veblen

The Portable Veblen : Shortlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction 2016

3.45 (7,606 ratings by Goodreads)
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3.45 (7,606 ratings by Goodreads)

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A laugh-out-loud love story with big ideas - and squirrels


Can squirrels speak? Do snails scream?

Will a young couple, newly engaged, make it to their wedding day? Will their dysfunctional families ruin everything? Will they be undone by the advances of a very sexy, very unscrupulous heiress to a pharmaceuticals corporation?

Is getting married even a remotely reasonable idea in the twenty-first century?

And what in the world is a 'Veblen' anyway?

'Raw and weird and hilarious'

'A touching, wildly funny and peculiarly elegant look at the travails of love of all kinds' Sunday Express

'Elizabeth McKenzie is clearly some sort of genius' Paul Murray

'I can't remember a book I enjoyed more' Nina Stibbe

'Seriously funny and extraordinarily well written' Jonathan Franzen, Guardian books of the year
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Product details

  • Paperback | 448 pages
  • 135 x 216 x 33mm | 480g
  • Fourth Estate Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 9780008160630
  • 157,002

Review quote

'Man oh man, do I love this book! Audacious, imaginative and totally wonderful' Karen Joy Fowler

'Smart, funny, charming and profound. Elizabeth McKenzie is clearly some sort of genius' Paul Murray

'The squirreliest novel I ever read. I enjoyed it completely' Ursula K. Le Guin

'Raw and weird and hilarious . . . very entertaining' Scarlett Thomas, Guardian

'Ambitious, spirited, funny, daring' Financial Times

'A touching, wildly funny and peculiarly elegant look at the travails of love of all kinds' Sunday Express

'Utterly charming. A true joy of a book' Irish Examiner

'Full of life and humour and compassion' Times Literary Supplement

'Witty and sharp' Irish Times

'Darkly funny, irrepressibly quirky and very, very hard to put down' Sam Baker, The Pool

'Quirky and smart. If you loved Karen Joy Fowler's We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, you'll love this' Glamour

'Wildly brilliant. Razor-sharp, intimate, hilarious and profound. Every page is a delight' Emma Jane Unsworth

'Terrifically entertaining . . . hard to resist' Daily Mail

'Offbeat, thoughtful, mischievous . . . McKenzie [has] a pin-sharp eye for the tragic-comic, and for dialogue' Herald (Scotland)

'McKenzie has a wonderful eye - and a relishing appetite - for the craziness that is everywhere in ordinary life if you know how to look' Tessa Hadley

'A novel of festive originality' The New York Times

'Unforgettable. A wild ride that you will not want to miss' San Francisco Chronicle

'If The Portable Veblen has a flaw, it is that its caricatures are so on the nose as to make the reader hope to flee the human race' Boston Globe

'Oddball characters and plot turns abound, including talking squirrels and bureaucratic ironies worthy of "Catch-22." But a sober question occupies its core: Do our parents' best intentions do us harm?' Minneapolis Star Tribune

'Accurately and funnily capture[s] the complexities of modern families . . . The Corrections meets The Wallcreeper' Huffington Post
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About Elizabeth McKenzie

Elizabeth McKenzie's work has appeared in the New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, Best American Nonrequired Reading, and the Pushcart Prize anthology. She received her MA from Stanford, was an assistant fiction editor at The Atlantic, and currently teaches creative writing at Stanford's school of continuing studies.
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Rating details

3.45 out of 5 stars
- 7,606 ratings
5 14% (1,095)
4 35% (2,648)
3 35% (2,686)
2 12% (908)
1 4% (269)
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