What if anything should we make of the surge of finance in fictional forms? Clearly the financial crisis and its aftermath has made finance a more interesting topic for writers. One could even argue in a contrarian fashion that when finance is worthy of a fictional treatment the market is set for a turn. (See the short-lived nature of the TNT-show, Bull, launched and cancelled in 2000 in the aftermath of the Internet bubble.)
The movie Margin Call has received a great deal of praise both from within the world of finance and the critical establishment as well. See our earlier post with a move review roundup. Over the week two of our favorite bloggers, The Epicurean Dealmaker and Barry Ritholtz both watched the film and were favorably impressed. (Although I don’t think they watched it together.) Barry thought it was a “great film” and TED writes:
For let me first say that I recommend the movie unreservedly, not only to professionals within the investment banking industry but also to outsiders still in possession of their moral compass. The lighting, cinematography, casting, and dialogue is, for the most part, pitch perfect, and the movie conveys exceptionally well the mood and atmosphere of the sales and trading end of a big investment bank.
Now it sounds like another movie, Arbitrage starring Richard Gere as a desperate hedge fund manger is set to emerge from the Sundance Film Festival as well. In addition two new books are also set in the world of finance as well. Felix Salmon recently reviewed the forthcoming novel The Fear Index by best-selling author Robert Harris. Salmon writes:
I tend to find fictionalizations of high finance disappointing…Robert Harris’s The Fear Index, however, is very different. For one thing, it’s not boring: it doesn’t allow financial exegesis to slow it down, and it’s as addictive as any thriller written. Pick this up on an airplane, and you won’t want to land. On top of that, it’s well written, to boot.
In other cases writers may simply be reflecting the world in which they live. Erin Duffy, author of Bond Girl: A Novel, worked in fixed income sales before writing her debut novel. Sara Vilkomerson at Entertainment Weekly writes:
Bond Girl is a sparkling debut, smart and snappy but never weighed down by financial terminology. Who knew Wall Street could be this much fun?
The one common denominator among these works is that market volatility helps drive the plot. In a world where the fate of countries hinges on the collective judgements of markets maybe finance really is a world worthy of more fictional depictions.
This is obviously not a comprehensive list of recent finance fiction. Have we missed any recent works of fiction that are set in the world of finance? If so, please feel free to leave a comment below.
Margin Call review round-up. (Abnormal Returns)
Fat Cats and Starving Dogs; Happy Foxes and Sad Sacks (Big Picture)
A Certain Moral Flexibility. (The Epicurean Dealmaker)
Is Arbitrage this year’s Margin Call? (LA Times)
Q&A for Arbitrage. (Sundance)
The Fear Index. (Felix Salmon)
Bond Girl: review. (Entertainment Weekly)