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golden ageby Jane Smiley (Mantle, £18.99)

In past volumes of Jane Smiley’s Last Hundred Years trilogy—about the descendants of an Iowan farming family—the absence of any unifying voice or plot device left you curious about the author’s purpose amid the many local pleasures of her rich social panorama.

Smiley’s new novel Golden Age—the title is ironic—concludes the multi-generational chronicle as a parable of American decline. Like the excellent Some Luckand Early Warning (reviewed in Prospect’s Summer fiction special) it proceeds in year-tagged segments, this time from 1987 to 2019. The killing of a child at a military checkpoint scars…

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