Capital: A Novel (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

Capital takes place on a once ordinary but now gentrified street in South London – Pepys Road. The residents include a broad range of both ethnic and economic backgrounds; a shop owning Muslim family, an elderly grandmother, an upwardly mobile couple in way over their heads, a young soccer player from Senegal and his father, and sundry employees and civil servants. As the title suggests, this is a story of money and the complications it brings with it, each viewing what surrounds them differently. While clearly depicting a British outlook on easy-money and excess, it certainly has correlation to our own adoration of status and wealth. When mysterious postcards sayng “We want what you have” begin turning up on doorsteps the residents become concerned and rightfully so. As we follow the individual lives of these mismatched neighbors, Lanchester resolves all of their wants and fears, some in predictable ways and some not. Since it’s now out in paperback, it makes a great beach read for those who like a little food for thought while sunbathing.

— From Janice's Picks

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


"A vibrant piece of fiction, pulsating with events and emotions…Seems destined to be read a hundred years from now." —Martin Rubin, Los Angeles Times

Each house on Pepys Road, an ordinary street in London, has seen its fair share of first steps and last breaths, and plenty of laughter in between. But each of the street’s residents—a rich banker and his shopaholic wife, a soccer prodigy from Senegal, Pakistani shop owners, a dying old woman and her graffiti-artist son—is receiving a menacing postcard with a simple message: "We Want What You Have." Who is behind this? What do they really want? In Capital, John Lanchester ("an elegant and wonderfully witty writer"—New York Times) delivers a warm and compassionate novel that captures the anxieties of our time—property values going up, fortunes going down, a potential terrorist around every corner—with an unforgettable cast of characters.

About the Author

John Lanchester  is the author of five novels, including The Debt to Pleasure and Capital. His books have been translated into more than twenty-five languages, and he is a regular contributor to The New Yorker and the New York Review of Books. He lives in London.

Praise For…

Not only immensely enjoyable but important, too.
— Claire Messud, author of The Burning Girl

Lanchester [is] a brainy, pleasure-loving polymath [and] reading Capital is like getting a crash course in the transformation of British mores and class distinctions.

— Liesl Schillinger - New York Times Book Review

Full of spectacular comedy—and menace.
— Ron Charles - Washington Post

Perfect fireside reading that captures the Trollopean ‘way we live now’ without putting on grand airs.
— James Wolcott - Vanity Fair

Lanchester employs a bird’s-eye view that sweeps in for dazzling close-ups, then swoops out again, until you see not only the entirety of Pepys Road, but the city, the world—and the economy that’s crumbling under the weight of everyone’s aspirations.
— Laura Lippman - New York Magazine

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

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

Fresh, astutely observed, and a lot of fun.
— Sebastian Smee - Boston Globe

A big, funny, sure-footed novel…rich in observation and warm in spirit.
— Dan Kois - Slate

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.

— Trisha Ping - Bookpage

— Lizzie Skurnick - NPR Books
Product Details
ISBN: 9780393345094
ISBN-10: 0393345092
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Publication Date: May 28th, 2013
Pages: 528
Language: English