An epic novel following a group of friends from their youth in the 1930s through middle age in the 1960s, The Survival of the Fittest unties the intertwined threads of politics, history, love and literature which link the group. Their coming of age in the shadow of World War II marks them and sets them apart, literature unites them: the unassuming, kind, stable Alison and the hard-drinking, mercurial Kit rise from anonymity to become successful novelists; Clem is a well-known political journalist; Bobby writes communist novels; and Jo publishes a single short story. Each, both writers and non-writers, attempts to help the aspiring writer Jo, who cannot escape his childhood home because he and his sister must care for their domineering, crippled mother. And, since he does not form new familial bonds, friendship means the most to him.

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