Capital: A Novel (Hardcover)

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Lanchester examines the disparate lives of the residents of one street--once working-class, now posh--in 2008 London. Longtime residents, immigrants and the newly rich make ends meet in their own ways while in the background financial markets become ever more fragile. Meanwhile, these neighbors (who never seem to interact) are receiving postcards picturing their homes with the message "We Want What You Have." Foreboding and humor go hand in hand in this stylish and irresistible novel. — Stan Hynds

Before becoming a bestselling novelist with The Debt to Pleasure, John Lanchester was a reporter. He's proven to be one of the smartest chroniclers of the financial crisis. His first novel since I.O.U., his frontline report from the collapse, examines how the events of 2007 impacts the residents of a South London street. From the banker pulling down seven-figure bonuses to the Pakistani shopkeeper and Polish builder, Lanchester deftly sketches a community attempting to hold onto its values in the face of world-changing crisis. There's a keen intelligence and gentle wit at work here, and this British answer to Franzen's Freedom is also vastly more entertaining.

— Charles Bottomley

June 2012 Indie Next List

“Capital begins with the households of London's Pepys Road each receiving a card that states, 'We want what you have.' Those menacing and mysterious notes are the jumping off point for Lanchester's brilliant exploration of modern London. From the financial trader in the midst of growing midlife and career crises, to the Pakistani family struggling with faith and family, to a dying woman and her street artist son, Lanchester effortlessly weaves myriad stories into brief chapters to create a written tapestry of remarkable color and depth.”
— Catherine Weller, Weller Book Works, Salt Lake City, UT


From the best-selling author of The Debt to Pleasure, a sweeping social novel set at the height of the financial crisis.

Celebrated novelist John Lanchester (“an elegant and wonderfully witty writer”—New York Times) returns with an epic novel that captures the obsessions of our time. It’s 2008 and things are falling apart: Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers are going under, and the residents of Pepys Road, London—a banker and his shopaholic wife, an old woman dying of a brain tumor and her graffiti-artist grandson, Pakistani shop owners and a shadowy refugee who works as the meter maid, the young soccer star from Senegal and his minder—are receiving anonymous postcards reading “We Want What You Have.” Who is behind it? What do they want? Epic in scope yet intimate, capturing the ordinary dramas of very different lives, this is a novel of love and suspicion, of financial collapse and terrorist threat, of property values going up and fortunes going down, and of a city at a moment of extraordinary tension.

About the Author

John Lanchester is the best-selling author of The Debt to Pleasure, Capital, and other works of fiction and nonfiction. A regular contributor to the London Review of Books and The New Yorker, he lives in London.

Praise For…

An exceptionally capacious and involving tale about disparate lives in turmoil on London’s Pepys Road…. Lanchester makes us care deeply about his imperiled characters and their struggles, traumatic and ludicrous, as he astutely illuminates the paradoxes embedded in generosity and greed, age and illness, financial crime and religious fanaticism, immigration, exile, and terror. A remarkably vibrant and engrossing novel about what we truly value.
— Donna Seaman

Searching, expert, on the money. I loved it.
— Joseph O’Neill, author of Netherland

Effortlessly brilliant—gripping for its entire duration, hugely moving and outrageously funny.

Capital comes in a great tradition of novels which are filled with the news of now, in which the intricacies of the present moment are noticed with clarity and relish and then brilliantly dramatized. It is clear that its characters, its wisdom, and the scope and range of its sympathy, will fascinate readers into the far future.

— Cólm Toibín, author of Brooklyn

Precise, humane and often hilarious, John Lanchester’s Capital teems with life. Its Dickensian sweep and its clear-eyed portrayal of the end of a strange era make this novel not only immensely enjoyable, but important, too.

— Claire Messud, author of The Emperor’s Children

expert, on the money.  I loved it.
— Joseph O’Neill, author of Netherland­­­

As enrapturing as it is psychologically acute… 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.

Brimming with perception, humane empathy and relish, its portrayal of this metropolitan miscellany is, in every sense, a capital achievement.

It is Lanchester’s gifts for observation and description that make Capital such a riveting read. It is a novel in which every few chapters a sentence will provoke an "I wish I had said that" reaction or, when it is a familiar thought, an: "I wish I had said that so well." … Above all, Lanchester should be applauded for a novel that is as readable as it is clever. He never attempts to prove his own intelligence, yet it oozes from every page.

The book John Lanchester was born to write.

Coverage from NPR

Product Details
ISBN: 9780393082074
ISBN-10: 0393082075
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Publication Date: June 11th, 2012
Pages: 528
Language: English
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