Three young adults grapple with the usual thirty-something problems--boredom, authenticity, an omnipotent online oligarchy--in David Shafer's darkly comic debut novel.
The Committee, an international cabal of industrialists and media barons, is on the verge of privatizing all information. Dear Diary, an idealistic online Underground, stands in the way of that takeover, using radical politics, classic spycraft, and technology that makes Big Data look like dial-up. Into this secret battle stumbles an unlikely trio: Leila Majnoun, a disillusioned non-profit worker; Leo Crane, an unhinged trustafarian; and Mark Deveraux, a phony self-betterment guru who works for the Committee.
Leo and Mark were best friends in college, but early adulthood has set them on diverging paths. Growing increasingly disdainful of Mark's platitudes, Leo publishes a withering takedown of his ideas online. But the Committee is reading--and erasing--Leo's words. On the other side of the world, Leila's discoveries about the Committee's far-reaching ambitions threaten to ruin those who are closest to her.
In the spirit of William Gibson and Chuck Palahniuk,Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is both a suspenseful global thriller and an emotionally truthful novel about the struggle to change the world in- and outside your head.
Praise for the book:"Genius techno-thriller à la Neal Stephenson, powered by social-media info-conspiracy à la Dave Eggers." ~Lev Grossman, Time
"Is it too late to nominate a candidate for novel of the summer? . . . A paranoid, sarcastic and clattering pop thriller . . . Mr. Shafer gets the playfulness-to-paranoia ratio about exactly right. . . . He's got a sick wit and a high style. Reading his prose is like popping a variant of the red pill in The Matrix: Everything gets a little crisper. . . . Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is a page-turner, yet many more 'literary' writers will, I suspect, envy Mr. Shafer's tactile prose. His eye is hawklike. . . . Mr. Shafer has written a bright, brash entertainment, one that errs, when it errs at all, on the side of generosity, narrative and otherwise. It tips you, geekily and humanely, through the looking glass." ~Dwight Garner, New York Times
"Zinging with wit and pop culture savvy . . . Shafer's writing is hip, wickedly hilarious, cutting edge, and ultimately concerned with old-fashioned notions of morality and redemption. . . His inventive, comic, dystopian semi-thriller restored my faith in fiction."~Mark Lindquist, Seattle Times
"Smart, funny . . . A techno-thriller with a soul . . . Shafer etches diamond-sharp and precisely observed contemporary satire." ~Laura Miller, Salon
"Shafer hits all the right buttons in his debut as he mixes crime fiction, espionage, and SF in a darkly comic novel." ~Publishers Weekly
"An edgy, darkly comedic novel whose characters and premise are as up-to-the-minute as an online news feed but as classic as the counterculture rebellions once evoked by Edward Abbey and Ken Kesey...Shafer's arch prose, comedic timing and deft feel for shadowy motives in high places are reminiscent of the late Richard Condon (The Manchurian Candidate), only with sweeter, sweeper characterizations...
It's possible that Shafer is remaking the international thriller into something more humane and thus more credible." ~Kirkus Reviews