The F*ck-It List is John Niven’s ninth novel since his 2008 debut, Kill Your Friends, and he’s pioneered a kind of gleefully nasty black farce that here evidently incorporates fantasy of his own about revenge on Trump. Yet the book is masterfully controlled and highly entertaining, with surprising elements of serious reflection on ageing, regret, and mortality. Think Elmore Leonard, only politicised. This book, too, though, like so many others, reads now as from the time before, the time before everything changed, only glancingly relevant to the time to come, perhaps.
Diagnosed with a terminal disease in John Niven’s The F*ck-It List (Heinemann £16.99), Frank Brill — a retired newspaper editor who lost his wife and son to a school shooting and his daughter to an illegal abortion — gets to work on an unusual bucket list: travelling from Indiana to Florida via Nevada and Texas, he bumps off a series of enemies. This road trip through the America of 2026, with Ivanka Trump now president, niftily combines a case study of one life wrecked by her father (who reverses legal abortion) with a satirical speculative survey of his legacy, from minimal gun control to a cowed media, migrant detention gulags to wars with Iran and North Korea.