Great Expectations

Great Expectations


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Susan's Review 

A writer for the New Yorker since 2016, Vinson Cunningham has produced a politically savvy, immensely readable novel about a thinly disguised unnamed Barack Obama on his first campaign trail. Cunningham was a staffer on that campaign, and his novel is bristling with insider knowledge of what it takes to become the leader of the USA: the strategies to attract wealthy donors, backstage deals, unflagging energy and a candidate of immense charm and rhetorical power, determined to be the first black president of the nation.

Cunningham’s alter ego is David Hammond, a young black man who lands a job in the would-be president’s campaign quite by accident, and who becomes increasingly disillusioned with the world of politics and the art of the deal. Like the character of Pip in Dickens’ Great expectations, David is both a passive observer of his world and all too willing to enjoy its material benefits. Like Pip, he ultimately returns to the moral values of his childhood, in David’s case to an affirmation of faith and family.

Cunningham’s debut novel is stylistically poised, at times sumptuous, and a great pleasure for readers of political fiction focused on racial identity and the search for meaning in ruthlessly ambitious world. Highly recommended. 

Publisher's Review

A historic presidential campaign changes the trajectory of a young Black man's life in the highly anticipated debut novel from one of The New Yorker's rising stars.

I'd seen the Senator speak a few times before my life got caught up, however distantly, with his, but the first time I can remember paying real attention was when he delivered the speech announcing his run for the Presidency.

When David first hears the Senator from Illinois speak, he feels deep ambivalence. Intrigued by the Senator's idealistic rhetoric, David also wonders how he'll balance the fervent belief and inevitable compromises it will take to become the United States's first Black president.

Great Expectations is about David's eighteen months working for the Senator's presidential campaign. Along the way David meets a myriad of people who raise a set of questions-questions of history, art, race, religion, and fatherhood that force David to look at his own life anew and come to terms with his identity as a young Black man and father in America.

Meditating on politics and politicians, religion and preachers, fathers and family, Great Expectations is both an emotionally resonant coming-of-age story and a rich novel of ideas, marking the arrival of a major new writer.