A review by shawntowner
Kapitoil by Teddy Wayne


I've found that anything that McSweeneys adds to their McSweeneys recommends list is worth reading, and Kapitoil is no exception. The novel starts off slowly, in fact I was about to give it up as I was getting sick of the repetitive Borat/EiL jokes about immigrants having a comically poor command of the English language. Fortunately, the book picks up when it goes from making fun of people who speak in business textbook language to being a Faustian tale of American capitalism.

The book tells the story of Karim, a Middle Eastern programmer who comes to America to help an investment company deal with the Y2K problem, but who ends up writing a program that uses reports of violence in the Middle East to predict oil futures. The program is a success and Karim is tempted by money, parties, romance, and all the other excitements of 1999 NYC. He is eventually faced with the decision of whether he will should sell his program (and his soul) to American corporate interests, or instead pursue a more lofty goal.