Synopses & Reviews
Celebrated novelist John Lanchester ("an elegant and wonderfully witty writer" New York Times) returns with an epic novel that captures the obsessions of our time. It's 2008 and things are falling apart: Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers are going under, and the residents of Pepys Road, London — a banker and his shopaholic wife, an old woman dying of a brain tumor and her graffiti-artist grandson, Pakistani shop owners and a shadowy refugee who works as the meter maid, the young soccer star from Senegal and his minder — are receiving anonymous postcards reading "We Want What You Have." Who is behind it? What do they want? Epic in scope yet intimate, capturing the ordinary dramas of very different lives, this is a novel of love and suspicion, of financial collapse and terrorist threat, of property values going up and fortunes going down, and of a city at a moment of extraordinary tension.
"Lanchester (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)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"If I had to pick one novel I'm most anticipating this year (and would love to have read in time for this preview) it's this one, a 600-page epic account of how people across all classes and walks of life, from traders to hedge funders to those just getting by, wrestle with the seeds of the financial crisis. Lanchester was working on the book when the economy melted down in 2008, which led to his fantastic I.O.U. (published as WHOOPS! in his native UK), the book I press upon people if they need a quick-and-dirty primer on how things went so spectacularly wrong. (He explains credit default swaps more lucidly than many whose careers depended on knowing this stuff.) Buzz out of the UK suggests this book should be one of the obvious Booker Prize contenders — so long as the judging panel goes along with the consensus — largely because it humanizes the real-world, we're-so-screwed effects of the crisis upon ordinary and privileged people alike without being didactic about it. If enough booksellers agree, Capital, and Lanchester, should find the critical audience he deserves here." Sarah Weinman
"Effortlessly brilliant — gripping for its entire duration, hugely moving and outrageously funny." Observer (UK)
"Searching, expert, on the money. I loved it." Publishers Lunch
"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." Joseph O'Neill, author of Netherland
"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." Donna Seaman
From the best-selling author of , a sweeping social novel set at the height of the financial crisis.
About the Author
John Lanchester is the author of three novels, including the widely translated The Debt to Pleasure. He is a regular contributor to The New Yorker and was awarded the 2008 E.M. Forster Award. He lives in London.