[Book Review in a Paragraph] “Babbitt” by Sinclair Lewis

Babbitt is a satirical novel, published in 1922, that takes place in the 1920s, Prohibition era. It gravitates around a middle-aged man, George F. Babbitt, the co-owner of a successful real estate firm, in the fictitious up-and-coming city of “Zenith.” The satire confronts the conformity and tragic idiocy of American middle-class life. Highly interesting, right? Right-o! In fact, if you don’t read this novel as a satire, this whole novel is a bit boring, and you do not really know why we are going through the motions of Babbitt’s wildly hypocritical life. Despite this focus on satire, the ending does not read like a satire, though sad, it is hopeful, and speaks to our reality rather than making fun of it. Another thing that might deter your enjoyment of this novel is an insufficient knowledge of Prohibition-era America, because a lot of the plot does revolve around attitudes and common happenings of that time– which is why I think that Babbitt is less read in school, than, say, Death of a Salesman (1949), though the themes are similar.

Verdict: if satire is not your cup of tea, avoid this novel, because you won’t find it amusing. Otherwise, even just the ending itself makes for fantastic reading, and I highly recommend it.


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