Wednesday, June 20, 2012

New This Week: Capital by John Lanchester

The main character in John Lanchester’s new novel is a once down-at-the-heel London Street. In Capital (McClelland & Stewart/W.W. Norton), we spend a lot of time on Pepys Road, an ordinary street that’s about to undergo a big change. The book takes place at the height of the financial crisis, as the excesses of the first decade of the new millennium give way to the crash of 2008.

 “I was interested in lives that barely touch,” Lanchester recently told Craig Taylor in an interview for The Daily Beast.

“With Capital,” Taylor writes, “his fourth novel, Lanchester was interested in a double microcosm: London as a microcosm of the world, and a single street as a microcosm of London. The setting Lanchester creates is Pepys Road, which by the first decade of the new century has become less a street and more of a collection of entities that need tending to.”

All of this make Capital sound much less interesting than it is. The reason is Lanchester’s deep talent: his searing prose, his sharp wit, his creation of you another well-considered moral tale. The author of The Debt to Pleasure and Fragrant Harbour delivers another thoughtful and entertaining commentary on our times. ◊

Monica Stark is a contributing editor to January Magazine. She currently makes her home on a liveaboard boat somewhere in the North Pacific.



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