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Night and the City Hardcover – 11 Oct 2007

4.8 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 274 pages
  • Publisher: London Books (11 Oct. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0955185130
  • ISBN-13: 978-0955185137
  • Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 2.7 x 24.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 465,029 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


A gem - one of those novels that collapse the distance between then and now, and not in a way that reflects well on us as a species.
-- Time Out, November 14, 2007

An understated literary classic
-- Guardian October 11 2007

From the opening scene it grabs you. Kersh is bound to win a new generation of fans. -- Jewish Chronicle November 2, 2007

From the Publisher

London Books is delighted to announce the re-issue of Gerald Kersh's vintage Soho, low-life masterpiece Night And The City, first published in 1938.

With a backdrop of the build-up to the Coronation celebrations of 1936, Harry Fabian swaggers around the bars, clubs and backstreets of Soho and the West End hustling for a pound note and invariably spending a fiver. He is a wide boy, a spiv and a ponce but most of all a fantasist heavily influenced by Hollywood films. Reality in the shape of exploited employees and prostitutes, family members and the forces of the law gradually impinges on the fantasy. With a colourful supporting cast of night-club owners, hostesses, wrestlers, pimps and barrow-boys Gerald Kersh has created an authentic and seductive landscape of the time and the place.

On first release Night And The City prompted much controversy being an early exposure of the seedier side of London that flourished behind the public face of the changing of the guards, the chiming of Big Ben and famous West End shows. Nevertheless, the novel endured and was filmed twice: firstly with Richard Widmark in 1950 and generally considered a film noir classic, and later starring Robert de Niro in 1992.

This edition includes a substantial introduction by contemporary author John King whose work includes The Football Factory trilogy, Human Punk, White Trash and The Prison House.

Gerald Kersh is the author of 19 novels and hundreds of short stories and articles. He died in the USA in 1968.

London Books is a new publisher formed by authors John King and Martin Knight. The company aims to bring old and new fiction together in a tradition that is original in its subject matter, style and social concerns. London Books believe that the marginalised fiction of the past can be as relevant and exciting today as when it was first published.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is a stunning novel that is hard to put down, such is the
power of the writing style and the warped attractiveness of the main
character, cockney wide boy Harry Fabian. Harry is an amoral spiv fixed on a slippery slope towards prison or, worse, a meeting with the cut-throat razor of the notorious Black Strangler, a disgruntled sap prowling the pubs and clip joints of 1930s Soho. While Fabian is the conman that drives the story, it is the London described by Kersh and the myriad personalities he has created that elevates the novel.

Gerald Kersh was a Soho face himself and his knowledge of the area and its
people means this book is the real deal, not just another observation by an
anthropologist looking in through the window of a dodgy pub he's too scared to enter. Kersh knew the score, and while he probably wouldn't rate Harry as much of a human being, he lets him condemn himself with his treatment of
those who help him, and worst of all, of his faithful streetwalking

This is a well produced edition and comes with an introduction by John King, author of The Football Factory, who apparently discovered Kersh while walking home drunk through Soho and falling into a remainder bookshop. Kersh would have liked that chance meeting and you will love this book if you choose to read it.
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By A Customer on 15 July 2001
Format: Paperback
This has that subtle English quality, that mixture of fascination, tolerance and genuine social conscience which marks the 'low-life' writer of the 30s and 40s in both the UK and US. But the UK brand is a bit grittier, bit less shocked by real life and there's a liking for these margin-dwellers which informs even the sleaziest characters. Addictive stuff. That Kersh could write comedy better thn anyone is evident from Fowlers End. I'd like to see some of his wonderful horror stories reprinted, too.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
London Books Classics have already introduced me to two notable novels, both as it seems to me worthy of a wider readership than the present has probably afforded them. I can only hope that this publishing venture serves to give others the considerable pleasure they have given me. I was strongly impressed with Arthur La Bern’s “It Always Rains on Sunday” and no less by this offering from Gerald Kersh.

Both writers were habitués of the worlds of which they write and Kersh’s novel yields nothing to the former in its evocation of a palpably authentic London demi-monde, peopled by spivs, small-time crooks, wheeler- dealers, prostitutes, barrow boys and talkers by the barrel load. Although the dominant character here is arguably the fantasist wide boy Harry Fabian, the book came most vitally alive for me with the entry of Vi, Helen and Nosseross. Fabian, a seedy pimp, commands a certain quality of pathos. The feeling is that were he to pause but a moment from speech and scrambling for cash via every illicit manoeuvre his sharp mind can think of, he would deflate like a punctured football. It is the dreams, the constant shady plans that block a sharp brain from seeing through the whole illusion. Interestingly, it is the initially seemingly naïve Helen, who is to emerge as the ruthless one, the one with a genuine grip on reality.

Kersh volunteers no explicit judgements, but through characters such as Bert and Adam, we see that within this shadowy, shifting world of graft there are values that transcend this world. Shafts of wisdom slip in casually: “Man spends the first half of his life trying to find himself and the other half trying to lose himself.” Descriptive detail is often striking and original: Vi’s breath is described as “what might come from a pathological specimen in a jar when the alcohol is evaporating.” I found this a thoroughly absorbing and richly enjoyable novel. I recommend it with enthusiasm.
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