The Ask: Sam Lipsyte

In this brilliantly crafted book, Lipsyte lays bare all the failings of modern America. Although it is a strong critique of American culture, The Ask never loses its human touch. The main character, Milo, although a thoroughly flawed human being, is a very believable replication of a failed artist and aimless peon. Milo works as a donations officer for a university and is fairly content with his mediocrity, until he is fired. When an old school friend comes back into his life, Milo is forced into a world that is even more incomprehensible than his own.

What makes The Ask exceptional is its ability to remain witty and entertaining throughout, even as it deals with a wide range of complex themes, from raising a child to the Iraq war. These themes, however painful, are never glossed over. In the best tradition of works such as Fight Club, Lipsyte uses his dark humour to engage the reader while at the same time giving a sharp and critical insight into our own society.