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Playing chicken

Peter Unwin attempts something rare in modern CanLit: a flat-out, corrosive satire

Searching for Petronius Totem

Peter Unwin

Freehand Books

THE 21ST-CENTURY digitized world – replete with technology that allows governments to surveil their own citizens and corporations to engage in ever-more-sophisticated target marketing as a means of selling their customers’ own obsessions back to them – should be ripe for satire. But there is a compelling argument to be made that our globally networked society has outpaced the genre, which relies for its effects on grotesque exaggeration. In the big-datasaturated present, ubiquitous CCTV cameras monitor our every move; so-called “five eyes” governments spy on their own citizens and share information under the guise of protecting the democratic world from terrorism; and digital giants like Google and Facebook monetize our every keystroke and click-through by mining our most sensitive personal information and offering it for sale to the highest bidder. The world that we have come to passively accept as normal would have given George Orwell and Aldous Huxley apoplexy.

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Debbie Ridpath Ohi: A big heart comes live on the page; Books for young people Fall preview; 100 of the top kids' books arriving on shelves this season.