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Londoners: The Days and Nights of London as Told by Those Who Love It, Hate It, Live It, Long for It, Have Left It and Everything Inbetween [Kindle Edition]

Craig Taylor
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (95 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Here are the voices of London - rich and poor, native and immigrant, women and men (and a Sarah who used to be a George) – witnessed by Craig Taylor, an acclaimed Canadian journalist, playwright and writer, who has lived in the city for ten years, exploring its hidden corners and listening to its residents.

From the woman who is the voice of the London Underground to the man who plants the trees along Oxford Street; from a Muslim currency trader to a Guardsman at Buckingham Palace; from the marriage registrar at Westminster Town Hall to the director of the biggest Bethnal Green funeral parlour – together, these voices and many more, paint a vivid, epic and wholly fresh portrait of Twenty-First Century London.

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`A splendid oral history of the city ... A remarkable volume' --Guardian

'Taylor tunes in to the multi-tongued, self-justifying noise of the streets. And he leaves us with a substantial account' --Iain Sinclair, Observer

'A remarkable new book that celebrates the city's endless diversity'
--Time Out *****

'It's the thoughtfulness of Taylor's character studies that make this impressive book'
--Metro ****

`A compelling oral history that reveals the capital through the voices of 80 or so ordinary Londoners' --Independent

`The most humane attempt in some time to capture London's big dirty heart ... a great book' --Word Magazine

`A definitive picture of London as true and important as any fact-filled history of our capital'


'Masterful... The best book about London in at least a decade'

'Electrifying ... The eloquence of the voices in this book is remarkable' --Oona King, The Times

'I almost learned more about Londoners from this book than from being a Londoner for more than four decades' --Oona King, The Times

'A rich and satisfying tapestry of city life' --Sunday Times

'Abuzz with the life and spirit of the capital city right now ... we salute this brilliant book'
--Dazed & Confused

`A haunting snapshot of contemporary London ... both charming and revealing' --Evening Standard

`An epic portrait that shows the city to be just as ... well ... Dickensian as it has ever been' --David Nicholls, Guardian

`I am crazy about Craig Taylor's Londoners ... I can't imagine any lucky recipient not enjoying it'
--Diana Athill, Observer

About the Author

Craig Taylor is the author of two books, Return to Akenfield and One Million Tiny Plays About Britain, which began life as a column in the Guardian newspaper. Both have been adapted for the stage. He is the editor of the literary magazine, Five Dials. His third book, Londoners: The Days and Nights of London Now - As Told by Those Who Love It, Hate It, Live It, Left It and Long for It will be published autumn, 2011. Born in Edmonton, Alberta, he grew up on Vancouver Island. He now lives in London.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars London - a cross section of opinion 2 Jan. 2012
This book is a collection of 80 or so personal experiences of London as told to the author and published using their own words. Some contributors are predictable, even inevitable, such as a taxi driver, a publican, a paramedic and a market trader. They represent traditional London. Others come from more recent arrivals, such as immigrants, and yet others from people that most of us never meet, such as a dominatrix and a long-time protestor against the invasion of Iraq, camped out in Parliament Square. Some of the stories are mundane, others quirky (such as those of the nurse in a STD clinic and the LT lost property clerk). Others are very moving, particularly one from the eyewitness of a Tube train suicide of a young girl. Most show the determination of those who live here to survive and prosper. If you want evidence that the entrepreneurial spirit is not dead, read the contribution by the East End funeral director.

As someone who was born in London and has lived here for more than 60 years, although not continuously, I was very dubious that a collection of short experiences from a very small number of people (the population of London is about 7.5 million) could possibly give a balanced view of the city. Were my original doubts vindicated? No, they were no. Obviously, a different choice of contributors would have produced different stories, doubtless with contradictory views, like the current ones, but overall the chosen contributions have a ring of authenticity and hang together well. They give a good feeling of what it is like to live and work in this great city. It is an excellent book and I thoroughly recommend it.
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65 of 67 people found the following review helpful
An oral history of `real' London, written by a Canadian geezer? No I wasn't convinced either.

But I'd read rave reviews about Londoners and so I decided to give it a whirl regardless. Thank god I did. This is a fantastic collection of candid tales about our metropolis. And while completely contradictory in their sentiments, all the voices feel genuine and unembellished; whether their account is bleak, loving or plain bizarre, you can guarantee that the narrator means every word.

The leg work in itself is impressive, five years worth of interviews, spanning all thirty-two boroughs and notching up around a million words of material. The hard work has paid off, because however you feel about modern London, you'll be accounted for by Mr. Taylor. He hasn't tried to sway the collection towards any particular conclusion.

Full of laugh-out-loud anecdotes, just as many angry and sinister rants, with some beautiful and poetic depictions of the city which come from the unlikeliest of sources.

Every time I put the book down I had the urge to jump on the tube and have a wander for myself!
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling accounts 2 Dec. 2011
Really loved this, as much for the British social history aspect as the London-specific stories. A real variety of vividly-painted characters, with stories told around different themes and aspects of life in London
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You Won't Find a Better Book on London 10 Dec. 2011
One of my favorite websites,, said this was the best London book in at least a decade. I agree wholeheartedly. This is a unique book full of inside knowledge, surprises, and accounts by 'ordinary' Londoners who reveal themselves to be anything but. Each one of the 80-odd voices adds another viewpoint. It captures what life is like in this gorgeous, frustrating, heartbreaking, money-grubbing, wonderful place.

So who should read Londoners? This book should be handed out to any young person looking to move to or visit London. It should be given to anyone who has lived in London and had to relinquish the place; anyone who wants to move out of London; anyone who has passed through London. It should be mandatory for anyone who is curious about how cities work. Who else should read this book? Ken and Boris -- they could learn a few things by listening to the voices of the people. Sociologists, politicians, playwrights, screenwriters, documentarians, Northerners who would rather chew their arm off than visit and maybe even smug Brighton people who want to feel good about selling up and moving out.

Every single one of the stories taught me something new about the city. I've been here for years but I feel I'm just getting know this place.

This book is for readers who want to get beyond the guidebooks and glimpse a unique view of this everchanging city.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Days and Nights of London Now....... 17 Jan. 2012
I listened to this book being read aloud on Radio 4 recently. It was so engaging that I ordered it for a Christmas present for my son, hoping that I could then borrow it sometime. While staying at my sons for Christmas I got my 14 year old grand daughter interested and she read the recollections of the lost property clerk at Waterloo which she loved. All of human life is there! A wonderful book if you love people as well as loving London. Maggie
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54 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than being there 11 Nov. 2011
I live in London but I rarely talk to anyone I don't already know so my view of the city is pretty fixed.

Taylor, an outsider from Canada, talks to everyone and anyone, and manages to get them to talk to him. No mean feat.

He gets under the skin of the city and reveals it in unexpected, beautiful and funny ways.

A real triumph.
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