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What does it mean to be on the "right side of history"? Is there a right side, or are there innumerable sides?
Mrs. Candace Winslow is hosting an awards dinner banquet in her opulent townhome. Petra Barnhouse arrives as the first guest/candidate. A Pennsylvania office admin employee turned environmental activist, Barnhouse lost her husband to well water poisoned by fracking. Among the guests who pour in after her are a Korean political dissident; a lesbian theater director; an idealist millennial; a working class Colombian immigrant; a war veteran; a Houston hurricane victim; a widowed holistic medicine advocate; a Norwegian storyteller and a Syrian refugee. They are all nominees who stand to have their hardships recognized by the FAIR committee, and to walk out $25,000 richer.
Because of the risk of a hate-motivated attack, the location is secret, and all guest/candidates must surrender their mobiles. But little do the party-goers realize that the greatest threat to their safety is themselves.
You might say the fete is a microcosm of internet culture or the state of the nation in these increasingly diverse times. Does a moment in the media spotlight really solve issues? Are the most victimized the most deserving, and why are rich white people the arbiters of the FAIR award anyway? Easy answers are upended when the opioid-addict Monti Taylor crashes the party and holds the hostess and her family captive in the pantry.
The Exploding Fete is a satire in the Menippean mode of Flann O'Brien with a guest appearance by master comic novelist Mark Leyner, appearing without authorization as himself. The novel's conclusions secure readers in the certainty that even in fictional worlds, the rich can get away with murder while the middle class remains pawns of the one percent.
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