Synopses & Reviews
The Sunday Times (UK) Bestseller
Award-winning poet and rapper Kate Tempest's electrifying debut novel takes us into the beating heart of the capital in this multi-generational tale of drugs, desire and belonging.
It gets into your bones. You don't even realise it, until you're driving through it, watching all the things you've always known and leaving them behind.
Young Londoners Becky, Harry and Leon are leaving town in a fourth-hand Ford Cortina with a suitcase full of money. They are running from jealous boyfriends, dead-end jobs, violent maniacs and disgruntled drug dealers, in the hope of escaping the restless tedium of life in south-east London – the place they have always called home.
As the story moves back in time, to before they had to leave, we see them torn between confidence and self-loathing, between loneliness and desire, between desperate ambition and the terrifying prospect of getting nothing done.
In The Bricks that Built The Houses Kate Tempest explores contemporary city life with a powerful moral microscope, giving us irresistible stories of hidden lives, and showing us how the best intentions don't always lead to the right decisions.
"Explosive … Fresh and vivid visions of a familiar world … It recalls two other great, recent, experimental novels about being young: Jon McGregor's If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things and Eimear McBride's A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing. There's the same sense of daring and linguistic inventiveness, the same feeling of language pushed to its limits … It fairly flies off the page." Observer
“A startling debut novel …The call-to-arms urgency with which she writes about the issues affecting her generation – from social prejudice and unemployment to modern love and selfies – has earned her comparisons to the Beat poets” Vogue
"Tempest is a worthy champion for a generation of disillusioned youth … Her lyrical talent comes through." Sunday Times
Becky, Harry, and Leon are leaving London in a fourth-hand Ford with a suitcase full of stolen money, in a mess of tangled loyalties and impulses. But can they truly leave the city that's in their bones?
Kate Tempest's novel reaches back through time--through tensely quiet dining rooms and crassly loud clubs--to the first time Becky and Harry meet. It sprawls through their lives and those they touch--of their families and friends and faces on the street--revealing intimacies and the moments that make them. And it captures the contemporary struggle of urban life, of young people seeking jobs or juggling jobs, harboring ambitions and making compromises.
The Bricks that Built the Houses is an unexpected love story. It's about being young, but being part of something old. It's about how we become ourselves, and how we effect our futures. Rich in character and restless in perspective, driven by ethics and empathy, it asks--and seeks to answer--how best to live with and love one another.
Kate Tempest, a major talent in the poetry and music worlds, sits poised to become a major novelist as well.
About the Author
Kate Tempest was born in London in 1985. She has published two plays, Wasted and Hopelessly Devoted, and two collections of poetry, Everything Speaks in its Own Way and the acclaimed Hold Your Own. Her epic poem, Brand New Ancients, won the 2012 Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry. Her album Everybody Down was nominated for the 2014 Mercury Music Prize. She is a Next Generation Poet. The Bricks that Built the Houses is her first novel.
Reading Group Guide
"One of the leading wordsmiths of our time.…She turns her raw, observational skills in book form to the urban young growing up poor–sex, drugs and increasing poverty amid the looming threat of gentrification." Jon Snow