Having read and enjoyed Raw Spirit I thought I had better check out Ian Banks’ fiction, too, and I’m glad I did. The Business reminded me of a couple of Ben Elton novels I read a while back, except the end of the world was not involved and The Business was much better. Much, much better. The synopsis on amazon.co.uk is as follws:
The Business is the 1990s success story run riot. The eponymous organisation is ancient, rich and invisible. All it lacks is a certain political clout, something the Business has avoided for centuries but with which it is now beginning to toy. A seat in the UN is at stake as Kate Telman, Level 3 executive, is drawn into the (rather polite) machinations of her superiors. Those expecting John Grisham may be disappointed. No bad thing, perhaps: Kate’s personal-professional life — there is, of course, no conflict here for the successful individual of the 1990s — is the main concern. Banks’ interest is in the moral debates about the position of the Business in a world it finds easy to manipulate, drawing the reader into a discussion of the place of the multi-national in contemporary economic and cultural life. “A lot of successful people are less hard-hearted than they like to think”: is one view put forward, and not the only romantic but equivocal sentiment hiding somewhere in The Business. —John Shire
The bit that puzzles me is “personal-professional life — there is, of course, no conflict here for the successful individual of the 1990s” as I sort of thought that the conflict between the personal and the professional was the major plot device of the novel. However, I agree that the strength of the novel, in addition, of course, to it being a ripping good yarn (always the most important facet of a novel imho), is that it makes the reader (or at least this reader) question “the place of the multi-national in contemporary economic and cultural life”.
Now, I think the husband picked up one of Banks’ sci-fi novels. I think I’ll have to give that a try, too.