By John Lanchester
Norton, $26.95, 527 pages
“if he didn’t get his million-pound bonus this year he was at genuine risk of going broke.”
This novel by British journalist and author John Lanchester begins in the late fall of 2007, just months before the worldwide financial crisis that devastated so many lives across the globe. For the residents of Pepys Road, London, the impending and then resulting crash is a backdrop to their own unraveling lives. For each of the main and supporting characters who live or work on this street in Southwest London, the uncertainty of the times is further compounded by the arrival of postcards, then DVDs, and finally blog postings, all with the same message: We Want What You Have. Although no laws have yet been broken, escalating complaints from the targeted residents bring in the Metropolitan Police to find the source of the harassment. What started as a nuisance becomes increasingly more ominous as financial markets continue to plummet.
From start to finish, this is a terrific book. It ticks all the boxes: a timely and suspenseful plot, compelling characters, interesting setting, and masterful language, pacing and structure. Here, all are in top form throughout. Lanchester’s writing style is both literate and funny but also journalistically accurate and eminently readable. Top of the pops, two thumbs up, highly recommended.
Reviewed by Linda Frederiksen