From the best-selling author of The Debt to Pleasure, a sweeping social novel set at the height of the financial crisis.
Publishers WeeklyLanchester (The Debt to Pleasure) follows on the heels of 2010’s I.O.U., a nonfiction dissection of the great recession, by covering much of the same territory in this barely allegorical study of class conflict and reversal of fortune. The affluent residents of London’s Pepys Road suburb are a handy cross-section of late-2007 types: Roger Yount, a banker riding high and counting on his bonus to cover mortgages and the needs of his spoiled wife; Shahid, the son of Pakistani immigrants working the family shop; the 17-year old soccer prodigy Freddy Kamo; Quentina Mkfesi, an educated Zimbabwean refugee turned traffic warden; the elderly Petunia Howe, living repository of Pepys Road’s postwar rise; and Petunia’s grandson, a Banksy-type artist named Smitty. This is just a sample of the cast, most of whom begin receiving mysterious cards reading “We Want What You Have.” Like clockwork, the quality of life on Pepys Road goes south, with arrests, injuries, illnesses, and financial undoing. But it’s hard to care, with predictable and seldom insightful plot threads, and Lanchester reducing his characters to their socio-economic parameters as surely as the market itself. The result is an obsequious, transparent attempt at an epochal “financial crash” novel that is as thin as a 20-dollar bill. Agent: Caradoc King, AP Watt. (June)
BooklistAn exceptionally capacious and involving tale about disparate lives in turmoil on London’s Pepys Road…. Lanchester makes us care deeply about his imperiled characters and their struggles, traumatic and ludicrous, as he astutely illuminates the paradoxes embedded in generosity and greed, age and illness, financial crime and religious fanaticism, immigration, exile, and terror. A remarkably vibrant and engrossing novel about what we truly value. Donna Seaman
Observer (UK)“Effortlessly brilliant—gripping for its entire duration, hugely moving and outrageously funny.”
Bookpage“As enrapturing as it is psychologically acute… Capital portrays an authentic slice of contemporary life on the eve of change in a way that recalls Franzen—with a welcome touch of wry humor.”
Times on Sunday (UK)“Brimming with perception, humane empathy and relish, its portrayal of this metropolitan miscellany is, in every sense, a capital achievement.”
Evening Standard (UK)“It is Lanchester’s gifts for observation and description that make Capital such a riveting read. It is a novel in which every few chapters a sentence will provoke an "I wish I had said that" reaction or, when it is a familiar thought, an: "I wish I had said that so well." … Above all, Lanchester should be applauded for a novel that is as readable as it is clever. He never attempts to prove his own intelligence, yet it oozes from every page.”
The Guardian (UK)“The book John Lanchester was born to write.”
Donna Seaman - Booklist“An exceptionally capacious and involving tale about disparate lives in turmoil on London’s Pepys Road…. Lanchester makes us care deeply about his imperiled characters and their struggles, traumatic and ludicrous, as he astutely illuminates the paradoxes embedded in generosity and greed, age and illness, financial crime and religious fanaticism, immigration, exile, and terror. A remarkably vibrant and engrossing novel about what we truly value.”
expert, on the money. I loved it.”
Cólm Toibín“Capital comes in a great tradition of novels which are filled with the news of now, in which the intricacies of the present moment are noticed with clarity and relish and then brilliantly dramatized. It is clear that its characters, its wisdom, and the scope and range of its sympathy, will fascinate readers into the far future.”
Claire Messud“Precise, humane and often hilarious, John Lanchester’s Capital teems with life. Its Dickensian sweep and its clear-eyed portrayal of the end of a strange era make this novel not only immensely enjoyable, but important, too.”
Library JournalIt's 2008, and even as the economy shudders and falls, something sinister is happening on Pepys Road, London. The residents are all getting postcards reading "We Want What You Have." What that is, no one knows, but the ominousness fits perfectly with the anxiety of society at large, even as the novel chronicles the small, personal dramas of each household. Award winner Lanchester is always good to read.
Kirkus ReviewsElegant, elegiac, eloquent novel of London life in the time when things lolly-related are definitively beginning to fall to pieces. Pepys Road was once such a nice street, a place destroyed by a V-2 rocket in World War II and rebuilt in such a way that aspirational veterans and young people could buy a stake in the British Dream. But that was then. Now, in 2007, after boom and bust and boom and bust, in a time of "bonuses which were big multiples of the national average salary, and a general climate of hysteria [that] affected everything to do with house prices"--well, only the rich can afford to buy in, and the old-timers are increasingly besieged. One of them is the well-heeled and pound-laden banker around whom Lanchester's (Fragrant Harbor, 2002, etc.) novel, as leisurely and complex as an Edith Wharton yarn, turns. But even he is much put-out, since his wife can't seem to get it in her head that money is not simply a thing to be spent at every waking moment. Meanwhile, from out in the darkness, messages are raining down, vaguely threatening, saying, "We want what you have." Ah, but practically everyone in this book wants everything, and those who don't want at least something that they don't have, from lost youth to a little peace and quiet. Who are the authors of these mystery demands? One thing that DI Mill (think, fleetingly, of John Stuart) concludes is that, first, they're not Nigerians or Kosovars or Eskimos, and second, though capable of better things, he's glad to have the distraction, even if "when he was doing routine repetitive work, that it was the equivalent of harnessing a racehorse to a plough." Mill finds plenty to do, and so does Roger, our banker, who's got a financial empire to save on top of his own bankbook and marriage. An expertly written novel of modern manners, with moments that read as if David Lodge or Malcolm Bradbury had stepped out of academia to take on the world of money and power.
The New York Times Book ReviewLanchester's assured, detailed overview of today's Britain recalls…Private Eye, the satirical publication that has taken the pulse of the country's body politic for half a century…Its regular features carve British behavior into attackable, overlapping compartments: real estate…banking…politics…journalism…and so on. Lanchester's novel integrates all these spheres and more. Reading Capital is like getting a crash course in the transformation of British mores and class distinctions, which otherwise might require a decade of remedial Private Eye-reading to decode.
- Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
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- 6.50(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.60(d)
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