Economic Fiction (The Good Kind)

The day before yesterday, in “On Real and Fictional Economists” I posed the question of what books and movies have economists as heroes. In addition to the comments on the post itself (including several very promising book recommendations), I received many interesting tweets. For example, I learned from Diane Coyle’s post “Economists in Fiction” of several books, and from her and others that there are now foureconomic murder mysteries by Marshall Jevons:

  1. Murder at the Margin
  2. Fatal Equilibrium
  3. A Deadly Indifference
  4. The Mystery of the Invisible Hand

I loved the first two, which were all I knew existed. 

Diana Coyle recommends other books with economist heroes, but points out how many more philosopher heroes there are in fiction. Ian Preston provides evidence for how few economist heroes their are in fiction with these Ngram frequency graphs: tumblr_inline_ndxn6aPCkR1r57lmx.png tumblr_inline_ndxngmIVmo1r57lmx.png

IMF economist Rex Ghosh has a book Nineteenth Street NW that was reviewed in the New York Times. That book review, “A Novel Whose Plot Seems Oddly Familiar” includes this grimly entertaining quotation from Rex:

When I was trying to shop the book around, originally in 2006, I could not get anyone interested. I remember a letter from a major publishing house saying, ‘It’s very nicely written, great characters, but the plot — a global financial crisis — is too implausible.’ 

On TV, “The Wire” includes a significant economics component, as pointed out by Ian Preston and JD Portes:

“The Wire”

Update: Michael W. Klein wrote to me on Facebook about his book:

Miles, I’ve been reading, with great interest, your posts for some time now. I saw your recent post on economists in novels; you might want to check out my 2011 satirical novel, Something For Nothing which is about a young economist’s first year post-PhD when he has an adjunct position at a small liberal arts college and faces personal and professional challenges after an article on teenage abstinence programs that he wrote as a grad student goes viral. Best wishes, Michael