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Capital Hardcover – 1 Mar 2012


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Faber and Faber; 1st Edition 2nd Printing edition (1 Mar 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571234607
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571234608
  • Product Dimensions: 16.1 x 4 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (578 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 94,829 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'This is an intelligent and entertaining account of our grubby, uncertain, fragmented London society that has almost replaced religion with shopping. Read it.' --Claire Tomalin, Observer

'Brimming with perception, humane empathy and relish, its portrayal of this metropolitan miscellany is, in every sense, a capital achievement.' --Peter Kemp, Sunday Times

'John Lanchester's pacy novel Capital perfectly captures the zeitgeist of London on the cusp of the crash and after the mad house prices, the egregious bankers and their wives, the Polish builders, Zimbabwean parking attendants, vapid conceptual artists and wannabe jihadis.' --Andrew Neather, The Standard, Books of the Year

'John Lanchester packed a city's worth of modern archetypes - bankers to builders to asylum-seekers - into the single gentrified street of Capital: a metropolitan meltdown saga.' --Boyd Tonkin, The Independent, Books of the Year

'Why was John Lanchester's Capital not Booker-listed? It is a splendidly capacious novel that subsumes London life of today into a single street and the fates of its residents over a year or so, their diversity nicely reflecting the cosmopolitan city ... A dozen different stories, all equally persuasive and absorbing.' --Penelope Lively, The Spectator Books of the Year
'Unfurling a lively social panorama of London as the economic meltdown begins, Lanchester takes you (with a keen expansiveness and eye for telling detail reminiscent of 19th-century condition-of-England novels) into the minds and circumstances of a colourful diversity of characters ... Smartly informed about both money and the metropolis, Capital is suavely satiric and warmly humane.' --Peter Kemp, Sunday Times Books of the Year
'John Lanchester has spun a complex and gripping tale of London life, a pre-crash portrait of greed and fear and money ... His characters are richly and sympathetically drawn ... He handles their disparate story lines with immense skill. There is, too, a rich seam of wit running throughout the book which makes it a treat to read, despite its serious intentions.' --Antonia Senior, The Times Book of the Week

'John Lanchester's pacy novel Capital perfectly captures the zeitgeist of London on the cusp of the crash and after the mad house prices, the egregious bankers and their wives, the Polish builders, Zimbabwean parking attendants, vapid conceptual artists and wannabe jihadis.' --Andrew Neather, The Standard, Books of the Year

'John Lanchester packed a city's worth of modern archetypes - bankers to builders to asylum-seekers - into the single gentrified street of Capital: a metropolitan meltdown saga.' --Boyd Tonkin, The Independent, Books of the Year

John Lanchester has spun a complex and gripping tale of London life, a pre-crash portrait of greed and fear and money ... His characters are richly and sympathetically drawn ... He handles their disparate story lines with immense skill. There is, too, a rich seam of wit running throughout the book which makes it a treat to read, despite its serious intentions. --Antonia Senior, The Times Book of the Week

Book Description

From the bestselling author of Whoops!: A post-crash, state-of-the-nation novel told with compassion, humour and truth

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By M. B. Rich on 17 Sep 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
First of all let me be clear that this was a surprisingly gentle but fun read.

I'm not entirely sure why i bought this book. Probably the lure of a different author and a different atmosphere to my normal reads. However it was that i came by this, i can honestly say it was a very fortunate meeting!

I dont want to spoil any of the plot but i would just say that the synopsis blurb around the "You have what we want" campaign is slightly misleading. This part of the story is only really incidental to the fundamental story of the lives of the people who live and work in Pepys Road. Please dont buy if you are expecting any type of crime thriller. Instead, we are treated to a number of very different life stories; all of which are interesting and thought provoking in their own ways.

I didn't find this book especially funny either but it was captivating and charming. As i finished the book i thought of two things 1. I wish there was another book continuing the stories of these people i had come to know and 2. what else has he written?

If you finish a book and want more then thats got to be a good sign!

Well worth a read :)
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266 of 292 people found the following review helpful By Susan Martin on 28 Feb 2012
Format: Hardcover
Perhaps John Lanchester has fallen prey to the hyperbole of his well meaning journalist colleagues: I had great expectations from the press for this novel and its reported ambition to pull together all the threads that make London what it is today: to be "The Way We Live Now" for the 21st century.

The premise is genius - take a south London street and its occupants from the old school banker heading for a fall, along with everyone else, to the old lady, the last of the ordinary pre-professional class who is dying, and use it as a prism to view London the city and the City of London. I recognised the street - hell, I live in a south London street between a retired electrician and his wife, who do indeed still have lino in the kitchen, and a banker who's putting in a loft conversion - and I recognised every single one of the characters from the banker's wife to the Polish builder. The plot bounces along, the writing is clean and well structured and it does manage to link all the disparate characters together in a way that doesn't jar. I want to love it and yet.....and yet......

The thing is: I know all this, and you do too. You know the characters if you've had a drink in a City bar, have employed a Polish builder, watched a episode of Gavin and Stacey, taken a trip to Harvey Nicks, watched Peston on the news and have heard of Banksy. I wanted more heft, more nuance, more insight, characters who were flesh and blood, not illustrations of a type. In short, I wanted more than a confirmation of what I can see around me every day. Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner.

"Capital" is worth the read, but wait for the paperback and a long flight. It may be the way we live now, but it won't be "The Way We Live Now" in a hundred years.
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91 of 105 people found the following review helpful By Wynne Kelly TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 27 Feb 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I liked John Lanchester's previous book Whoops and was looking forward immensely to Capital. It had been hailed as possibly the State of the Nation novel of the decade.

Capital is a diverting enough read but it lacks the insight and incisiveness that you would hope for from a really good book. The plot involves a myriad of characters linked to addresses in Pepys Road. Unfortunately many of these come over as stereotypes - the greedy banker, the selfish wife, the hard-working Pole, the devout Muslims, the heroic refugee. The writing is good but far from brilliant.

One problem is that Capital is not different enough from similar novels published recently - such as Sebastian Faulks' A Week in December or Hearts and Minds by Amanda Craig. Although it is an entertaining book but I was disappointed as I was expecting something more.

I am sure there is a State of the Nation novel of the decade somewhere - but this isn't it.

(I dithered about the star rating - would have opted for 3 and a half so erred on the side of kindness!)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By JK on 6 May 2013
Format: Paperback
I thoroughly enjoyed this proper novel - at first - and I thought - at first - that many of my fellow reviewers here were being a little churlish.

But there is a sense that it adds up to less than the some of its parts. In a large cast, some characters are more engaging than others (inevitably, I suppose, but must it really be inevitable?), and I did have to fight quite hard to stop myself skipping over the chapters concerning my least favourites.

I kept waiting to find out how things would go as and when the various lives began to intertwine ... but apart from a couple of near misses, they remained isolated from each other, even as they inhabited houses on the same street. Realistic in this at least.

The 'mystery' was feeble and inconsequential, as, in fact, to a greater or lesser extent, were the stories of all the inhabitants of Pepys Road.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Judith Cummings on 1 Mar 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I thought this was a wonderful book. Yes, it was peopled by characters and types that we all recognise (I think that's the point) but that didn't stop them from being full of life and energy. I was constantly reminded of people that I know from real life, not just the famous or sterotyped. And yes, Smitty is rather too like Banksy, but so what? It actually makes a point about the vaccuous nature of so much of modern 'conceptual art'.
The sympathetic characters were the unprentious ones, those scratching a living Like, 'Bogodan' (not even allowed his own name when working)and Matya; not the banker and his dreadful wife Arabella, nor even the awful Ms Strauss, a human rights lawyer who is in the game only for her own ends.
The truths that Lanchester tells about our asylum system and treatment of foreign workers are frighteningly apt. He touches on so many issues about contemporary life - not just what it is like to live in a big expensive house in London, but about the shallow nature of the things we hold dear, about the price of fame, the glorification of the football industry and the dangers that lie in wait for a kid who just wants to play football and have fun. The writer is most successful when allowing his characters to show that they know the cost of everything and the value of nothing.
A very appropriate novel for our times. I wonder if we will learn anything from it?
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