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  • Why Liv?

    Jon Sebastian Shifrin’s novel, Why Liv?, centers around a corporate drone and his search for meaning in his life. Liv, as he’s called, is a 20-something living in Manhattan. He’s bored with his job, annoyed with his apolitical yet beautiful, ambitious girlfriend Gita, and fed up with the current political climate—particularly the Comitans, a political group that resembles Republicans, and presidential candidate Edward Schmidt, a radio personality who mirrors the current president, down to his orange pompadour hair and campaign slogan of making the country great again. Eventually, Liv is driven to quit his job, break up with Gita—and head to Spain to find himself. As the story unfolds, Liv meets the love of his life and discovers a new path. Shifrin’s novel is often a highly amusing ride. His narrator’s descriptions of everyday corporate life recall episodes of The Office and the cult hit, Office Space. For example, at one point, supervisor Marcy lectures Liv on his work failures: “You haven’t reported your weekly recycling activity for six weeks, nor have you opted in to the office’s composting plan. You missed your rotation for turning off the lights at close of business -twice – and I heard you’re even printing one-sided documents.” Fans of the series and movie, will likely revel in parts of Why Liv?

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  • Wonderfully told story

    Reviewed by Christian Sia for Readers' Favorite Why Liv? by Jon Sebastian Shifrin is a wonderfully told story with an international setting that takes readers from New York to Barcelona, following the spiritual odyssey of Livingstone Mordicai Ackerman. From the outside, Liv’s bread is buttered. His life is the envy of many or that is what it seems: a brilliant girlfriend, a well-paying corporate job, and more. But his seeming success is a veil that hides the chagrin he carries within, with difficult and overbearing parents and a girlfriend who can’t think beyond herself. His personal crisis is aggravated by the political climate that rocks the country with the emergence of the Patriot Posse, a political group that gradually grips the hearts of many, following the slogan of their shady leader: “Make America Great Again.” As the group grows in popularity, it becomes clearer that they will take the presidency. Liv can’t stand the idiocy, so to preserve his dignity and sanity, he dumps everything and sets out for Spain in search of meaning, and perhaps, himself. Why Liv? is divided into two parts: Dusk, which symbolizes the gloomy moment in the life of the protagonist, and Dawn, which announces his rebirth, a journey towards hope and meaning. This is a beautiful story told in a language that is meditative and that features strong political and spiritual themes. At the heart of the story is one man’s quest for meaning, a subject that has eluded the American populist society, especially since the advent of Donald Trump. While this is a story written to entertain readers, it is timely and contains universal lessons on societal values, humanity, and what it takes to live a meaningful life. It is a powerful critique of a society that is easily swayed by what is ephemeral. Jon Sebastian Shifrin writes in gorgeous prose and creates characters that are compelling and believable while painting a society that is home to many, yet one that feels uneasy to live in. It is thought-provoking and entertaining. Why Liv? is a wake-up call to contemporary Americans, a book that challenges how readers approach political reality.

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