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The Piketty Problem or The Robots Are Coming, The Robots Are Coming

There's trouble brewing—bigly— in ritzy Canaandale, NY, during the run-up to the hotly contested 2016 presidential election.

Suzanne Dealy is an anxious political progressive with a flair for the dramatic, and a devotee of Thomas Piketty, the famous French economist who documented the corrosive wealth gap in America. She's currently suffering from a listless libido, brought on by her Trump-supporter husband, whose solution to "the minimum wage problem" in his 26 McDonald's franchises is to replace his inconvenient workers with "McRobots."

After a bitter quarrel about his lack of empathy for his workers, Suzanne attempts to embarrass her husband into a change of heart by carrying out an innovative shoplifting scheme at the local supermarket, involving Amazon air-pillow packaging and tight jeans. But she discovers her libido's not so listless when she's "saved" by Steve Harris, a job-eliminated ad exec and fellow Piketty disciple who's going through a trial separation from his go-getter, labor negotiator wife.

Suzanne and Harris join his idealistic daughter and her Brooklyn artist boyfriend to launch "the Piketty Brigade" to fight against income inequality and sabotage her husband's dream. The highlight of the Brigade's performance-art demonstration is a battle of two giant Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons—Ronald McDonald versus Uncle Sam. When a shot rings out and the loser sinks to the ground, all three couples are forced to decide how they'll deal with the advent of the robots, as well as make their choices about cementing their relationships or breaking up permanently.

"A cogent breakdown and sendup of modern political discourse...Entertaining antics and Hallberg's snappy prose make for a very engaging read."—Kirkus Reviews