Summary from Goodreads:
Ray Morris is a tech journalist with a forgettable face, a tiresome manner, a small but dedicated group of friends, and a wife, Garthene, who is pregnant. He is a man who has never been punched above the neck. He has never committed adultery with his actual body. He has never been caught up in a riot, nor arrested, nor tagged by the state, nor become an international hate-figure. Not until the summer of 2011, when discontent is rising on the streets and within his marriage. Ray has noticed none of this. Not yet.
The Adulterants would be a coming-of-age story if its protagonist could only forget that he is thirty-three years old. Throughout a series of escalating catastrophes, our deadpan antihero keeps up a merciless mental commentary on the foibles and failings of those around him, and the vicissitudes of modern urban life: internet trolls, buy-to-let landlords, open marriages, and the threat posed by more sensitive men. But the wonder of The Adulterants is how we feel ourselves rooting for Ray even as we acknowledge that he deserves everything he gets.
I’ve been noodling over how to review Joe Dunthorne’s The Adulterants. I didn’t love it, I also didn’t hate it, and I’m also kind of “eh?” because I think I didn’t quite get it. I think this novel is supposed to be satirical, with a kind of ironic distance, so we can laugh at the clueless white dude who is super proud of having black friends and gay friends, whose wife is a quarter Turkish (I think), and he would have been very supportive of his wife had she decided not to have the baby (her body, her choice, right?). It really just comes off as the narrative of some sad-sack idiot who isn’t even as remotely woke as he thinks he is. He kind of deserves everything that happens, particularly since he learns absolutely nothing. The book is more eye-roll inducing than funny.
Lord, grant me the self-confidence of a mediocre white dude.
The Adulterants will be available on March 6.
Dear FTC: Thanks to Tin House Galley Club for the ARC.