Novelist Wendy Walker on Recession Lit

By Jason Boog Comment

wendywalker23.jpgWhat happens when characters’ lifestyles change radically with the recession? Novelist Wendy Walker recently spoke with GalleyCat about her new novel, “Social Lives“–where a group of affluent women struggle with the recession’s effect on their families.

In the interview, she explained how the lives of her characters have been altered in the last, difficult year, in what the NY Times dubbed “recession lit”: “My first novel, ‘Four Wives,’ was written pre-recession and the focus was more on the internal experiences of the women as they assessed their value and their happiness, having chosen to ‘opt out’ of paying work. These issues, especially that of at-home mom and wife ‘value,’ is very real and have been discussed for decades.

She continued: “But they are less tangible and urgent than what the women in ‘Social Lives’ face, who are in the middle of our current economic downturn. In many ways, these wealthy social structures are built like a house of cards, particularly for the women who don’t have another deck to play with.”

She continued: “This topic has created a fascinating twist on an issue that is always present for women who devote their lives to being wives and mothers. In the wealthiest communities, there is typically a division of labor within the homes, with the husband working the 24/7 job and the wife taking care of everything else.

“This is what makes those outrageously high-paying jobs possible. It used to be that divorce created the most compelling consequences for the women who chose ‘careers’ that have no economic value outside of marriage.

She concluded: “Now, we have this new twist where the husband loses everything and the wife is looking at all she’s done and achieved over decades and realizing that she is still helpless – not only to provide for herself, but for her children as well. It is thus an economic issue, a social issue, and a feminist issue all in one! What could be more interesting for women’s fiction?”