As part of our Best Books of 2012 coverage, our editors weigh in on some of their personal favorites from the list.
John Lanchester’s latest has been called “the British Corrections” and though Capital focuses on the varied residents of a London street, rather than a single family, this closely observed, socially aware novel earns the comparison. Set just before the 2008 economic crash, this engrossing, Dickensian tale takes on terrorism, immigration and the nouveau riche with aplomb.
Capital by John Lanchester
Norton • $26.95 • ISBN 9780393082074
on sale June 11, 2012
Novelist John Lanchester has been best known recently for his incisive, clear commentary on the fiscal follies of the last few years, some of which was distilled in the 2010 bestseller I.O.U.: Why Everyone Owes Everyone and No One Can Pay (S&S).
Now, in his first novel since 2002, Lanchester explores the real estate bubble and the banking crisis through fiction that is as enrapturing as it is psychologically acute. Capturing a vast swath of Londoners among the residents of the gentrified Pepys Road, Capital portrays an authentic slice of contemporary life on the eve of change in a way that recalls Franzen—with a welcome touch of wry humor.
Banker Roger Yount and his wife Arabella reside in a constantly upgraded and updated home on Pepys Road. The Younts, with their extensive household help, luxury cars and country estate, exemplify the one-percenter—but times are changing.
Luxury meant something that was by definition overpriced, but was so nice, so lovely, in itself that you did not mind, in fact was so lovely that the expensiveness became part of the point, part of the distinction between the people who could not afford a thing and the select few who not only could, but also understood the desirability of paying so much for it. Arabella knew that there were thoughtlessly rich people who could afford everything; she didn't see herself as one of them, but instead as one of an elite who both knew what money meant and could afford the things they wanted. . . . She loved expensive things because she knew what their expensiveness meant. She had a complete understanding of the signifiers.
What are you reading this week?