Saturday, December 26, 2015

28. Capital by John Lanchester

This was recommended by every member of my immediate family and happened to be in the bookshelf over the xmas holidays.  A bit of a brick for the year-end reading rush, but I tore through it.  It's a real page-turner.  I guess it falls under the category of literary fiction.  The story follows the lives of several characters, all of whom interact with a specific street in London in 2007 and 2008.  The opening chapter lays out the history of the street and how it went from primarily a middle class neighbourhood to suddenly becoming super valuable with the money and real estate boom in London at the beginning of the 21st century.  The anchoring element is that somebody has been putting postcards in people's mailboxes with photos of their front door and the words "We want what you have".  The characters are a wealthy financier and his materialistic wife, a Pakistani shopkeeper and his family, a Polish builder who does lots of renovations in the neighbourhood, the non-citizen but can't be deported East African meter maid, a young Senegalese soccer star and a dying woman who lived her whole life on the street.

It's a thoroughly enjoyable read, that I am guessing really captures many of the major issues of living in London today, it's massive increase in wealth, the political and social challenges of the muslim populations living there (and other immigrants) and an overheated real estate market.  Lanchester treats the characters with a lot of respect and bad things happen, but never extremely so and you hope the best for all of them. 

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