Have just finished reading The Tortilla Curtain by T.C. Boyle, which was recommended by a friend who's just putting the finishing touches to her own first novel. First published in 1995, Boyle's narrative charts the parallel lives of a liberal humanist nature writer living in a gated community in the Santa Monica Mountains and an impoverished Mexican immigrant sleeping rough in a nearby canyon. That the novel feels so fresh is not only a credit to Boyle's writing but also a sobering reminder that the chasm between the rich and poor hasn't narrowed any in the last decade as a recent Guardian article on the Dainfern estate in South Africa attests. Both novel and article come highly recommended, as does J.G. Ballard's Super-Canes, which takes the possible consequences of gated communities to their frightening conclusion.