First Fiction Friday: The Towers of Babylon

February 7, 2020

Author Michelle Kaeser's debut novel The Towers of Babylon (Freehand Books) is a literary combo of the all-too-real millennial struggles of Girls and the sibling dynamics of This Is Us with a humorous flair of its own. Set in Toronto, the novel follows a group of millennials and exposes a generation's struggle to find their place in our current times. Scroll on for more about the novel.

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What: The Towers of Babylon (Freehand Books, 2020)

Who: Michelle Kaeser was born and raised in Toronto, and currently lives in Vancouver. Her fiction and essays have appeared in anthologies, journals, magazines, and newspapers across the country. The Towers of Babylon is her debut novel.

Why you need to read this now: This is a book that perfectly encapsulates our modern time, for anyone who feels overwhelmed by the current state of the world. Diving into The Towers of Babylon is like having a validating, comforting conversation with your best friend. About the absurdities and injustices and anxieties of contemporary society. About financial insecurity and trying to piece together something resembling a livelihood. About how it feels like we’re running around in circles trying to save the world, but the deck is stacked against us—that something is broken, fundamentally broken, something that just be can’t be patched up or pasted over. And what, then, do we do? What can we do?

The Towers of Babylon introduces us to Joly, with her graduate degrees in creative writing and her inability to find employment. Lou, Joly’s best friend, who has lost the ability to feign interest in her tedious, ridiculous middle-class job. Ben, Joly’s boyfriend, a devoted Communist and union enthusiast and Anglican with a big heart and big reservoirs of anger. And Yannick, Joly’s brother, a private equity hotshot whose Freedom Thirty plan has become Freedom Thirty-Five… then Freedom Forty… now maybe Freedom Forty-Five?... as his family’s needs keep expanding by the day.

As these characters walk the streets of present-day Toronto, they’re searching to carve out a place for themselves in a world that stymies them at every turn. And in these troubled times, we can gather strength for the battles ahead from knowing that someone else understands this feeling, too.

Sigal Samuel, author of The Mystics of Mile End, says, “Michelle Kaeser has written a perfect classic for millennials. She captures us in all our overeducated, underemployed, anxious glory. At once devastating and funny, whip-smart and sexy, this is the definitive portrayal of a generation shipwrecked by post-recession capitalism. It left me winded.”


X+Y = The Towers of Babylon

Picture the all-too-real millennial struggles of Girls, combined with the exploration of sibling dynamics of This Is Us, with a sharp-witted humour and shrewd insight that’s all its own.









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Thanks to Kelsey Attard at Freehand Books for sharing The Towers of Babylon with us. For more First Fiction Friday,  click here.








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