The Echo Chamber by John Boyne [7/10]

Brilliant Irish novelist John Boyne has now tilted towards satire, with “The Echo Chamber” chronicling tumultuous days in the lives of a silver-spooned British family, the Cleverleys: broadcasting icon George; bestselling novelist Beverley; and their three messed-up children. All five are thriving, according to their individual desires, in the social media world. As the novel’s title makes clear, Boyne’s target is the capricious, savage world of Twitter and Facebook. When George haphazardly tweets about a transitioning secretary, the worlds of all the five Cleverleys tumble willy-nilly into the darkest crevasses of online justice and injustice. Boyne is supreme at dialogue and the entire book glitters with clever conversation upon witty exchange, and his plotting of the absurd trajectory of his subjects is masterful. Most importantly, from my point of view, the author feels for his characters even as he skewers them, and his calibrated tone of realism merged with outrage is wonderful to read. The Echo Chamber is neither high tragedy nor visceral commentary, but is all the more sparkling for being a humane, funny, intelligent window onto our connected world. All of John Boyne’s novels come highly recommended and this is a fine example.

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