is Don DeLillo's 13th novel. His reputation as one of the most provocative and innovative of American writers is assured, thanks to such books as Underworld
, but this new outing is as likely to challenge the author's legion of admirers as much as it will exhilarate them--and there's nothing wrong with that.
DeLillo's protagonist this time is a well-heeled American, Eric Packer, who sets out one eventful day for a haircut. Gazing through the windows of his white limousine (and availing himself of its state-of-the-art technology), this self-made millionaire takes in the spectacle of financiers being murdered, the funeral of a rapper and some violent anti-globalisation protests. As we come to know DeLillo's anti-hero, we realise that Eric Packer is by no means the most ingratiating of individuals. Cheating on his new wife, he specialises in using people in a cynical and exploitative way. And as this self-serving captain of industry takes an ever-more dangerous journey through a bizarrely rendered New York, it's inevitable that comparisons with Tom Wolfe's classic Bonfire of the Vanities will spring to mind. Resemblances of plot aside, however, the book is a very different animal. Wolfe's narrative had the epic spread of a latter-day War and Peace, whereas DeLillo sharpens and condenses his prose in Cosmopolis to produce an altogether more concise novel.
There are two ways to approach Cosmopolis: as a rudely pointed dissection of the American Dream, or as a surreal, symbolic (and disturbing) road trip. This is not a comforting book, but a bracing and caustic one. --Barry Forshaw
...a serious and absurd book... it is genuinely, consistently funny; it has charm. -- Daily Telegraph, May 2003
Cosmopolis works best as a historical pageant of our hi-tech fantasies, before dot.com plunged into dot.bomb. -- Waterstone's Books Quarterly, April 2003
Full of ideas, and brilliant phrases, Cosmopolis is written with the sort of intensity you simply don't get elsewhere. -- GQ Magazine, April 2003
It is Mr DeLillo's stylistic swagger that makes Cosmopolis such a compelling read. -- Economist, April 2003
There remains more than enough artistry in his sentences and irony in his observation to make the inevitable constantly surprising. -- Observer, May 2003