FICTION

Campusland

St. Martin’s. Aug. 2019. 336p. ISBN 9781250222374. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250222381. F
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DEBUT This novel promises a skewering of the modern American college campus. At the fictional Ivy-ish Devon University, Eph Russell is an English professor without Ivy credentials. From rural Alabama, he avoids mention of his background. He’s up for tenure (in an odd competition for one open spot unheard of in real-life academe), suddenly facing hurdles that could torpedo his chances—or worse, his entire career. Elsewhere on campus, Lulu Harris is struggling through her first year at Devon. She’s not entirely sure she should even be in college; should she be back in Manhattan making connections and establishing herself? Life takes a turn for the worse when she falls out with the only acceptable social club, the Fellingham Society. Clashes between fraternities and social activists on campus round out the conflict, with tensions on campus escalating into cataclysmic proportions.
VERDICT With one-dimensional, highly stereotypical characters and narratives plucked straight from conservatives’ talking points or ranting tweets, this reads less as a skewering and more of a meanspirited, right-wing screed. Disappointing at best.

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