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Born Yesterday: The News as a Novel Paperback – 3 Apr 2008

3.7 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (3 April 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571240267
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571240265
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1.4 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 445,619 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Book Description

In Born Yesterday: The News as a Novel, by Gordon Burn, one of Britain's most fearless writers takes on real news stories in the most ambitious and innovative novel of the year.

About the Author

Gordon Burn is the author of four novels, Alma Cogan (winner of the Whitbread First Novel Prize), Fullalove, The North of England Home Service and Born Yesterday. He is also the author of the non-fiction titles Somebody's Husband, Somebody's Son, Pocket Money, Happy Like Murderers, On The Way to Work (with Damien Hirst) and Best and Edwards.


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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I feel compelled to tell everyone about this book. Gordon Burn has taken the top news stories of 2007 and turned them into a novel. It sounds simple enough but the author has used these stories to tell a tale of the modern age.
A single sentence in this novel is a hundred times more thought-provoking and insightful than all the column inches given in the press. He is able to point out coincidences without offering opinion. Part journalism, part novel this is one of the most exciting pieces of literature to be published in years. If you have any interest in the written word then I urge you to read this.
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Format: Paperback
In 'Born Yesterday: The News As A Novel' Gordon Burn guides us through the big British news events of 2007, focusing particularly on the handover of power from Tony Blair to Gordon Brown and on the dissapearance of Madeleine McCann - as seen through the prism of the modern, 24/7 mass media - with literary skill and journalistic exactitude.

Burn clearly has some important things to say about the way the modern mass media effects our lives. The use of Marketing techniques to try to 'sell' an image to the public of Gordon Brown in order to win public approval and the attempt to 'sell' Madeleine McCann's image as a means of keeping her memory alive are both particularly salient in the book. The gap/discrepancy between media image and everyday reality, or in the words of Burn, between 'What is organic and what is artificially simulated' forms the heart the book.

'A narrative. A story. It is this...more than anything, a government must have if it is going to succeed. A story. A narrative to inspire supporters and enthuse the electorate.'

'Madeleine's eyes that had been styilised into media emblems...It had been a controversial decision to go big on the defect in Madeleine's eye and make this her distinguishing mark, the one certain way of identifying her. Because what follows from that, if the kidnapper wants to disguise the fact that the girl with him is the girl in question? Answer: damage the eye in some way...'Certainly we thought it was possible...But in terms of marketing it was a good ploy.''

Burn is a very good writer and one that makes you think about the society in which you live. The themes explored in the book are themes Burn has explored before but here they are brought to their obvious conclusion.
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Format: Paperback
Gordon Burn's final book Born Yesterday (he died in July 2009), is about as good a tribute to its author as you could get. It is a strange book, for at first glance it does not appear to be fiction at all, more like a rolling news review of 2007. Burn covers many of the major news events of the year, including the abduction of Madeleine McCann, terror attacks at Glasgow airport, Gordon Brown's succession from Tony Blair, the catastrophic flooding that affected great areas of the country. All these stories are interleaved throughout the book, but as you read them you realise that this is not journalism at all.

After the first couple of chapters, you realise that Burn is creating something new by looking at the connections between all the stories and the way they all interact with each other. Before long, the reader gets drawn into the conflation of real-life news events and sees that there really is a bigger picture, that in fact much of this so called "news" only really exists because of and through the media. Age-old stories are being told and re-created, and new myths are called into being but how much to they rely on "facts" and how much does the story exist because of itself.

Burn discovers linking themes in the news (the way the media created a picture of Kate McCann as a cold, unfeeling woman, somehow devoid of normal emotions, almost an "android". The focus on eyes in a sort of mythical way (Gordon Brown's loss of an eye, Madeleine McCann unusual "flaw" in her iris), the homo-erotic side of Blair's government.

By the end of the book, I was reminded (as I need to be reminded again and again) that the media creates the news. Or rather it takes a news item and turns it into a story, just as much a work of fiction as any novel.
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