Following in the steps of Dickens
IF journalism is history’s first draft, fiction is often its second. More concerned with interpreting than documenting, more focused on patterns and themes than facts, fiction often fills an important gap between its more forensic cousins, directing our attention not to the events themselves but to their human dimension and meaning, reminding us that even the largest historical events are also human dramas, made up of thousands of personal stories. Perhaps uniquely, at least when it comes to the global financial crisis, British author John Lanchester can claim to have written both.
As an essayist he has produced some of the most astute and articulate analysis of the crisis and its causes, much of it in the London Review of Books, a full-length work of nonfiction on the subject (the wonderfully titled Whoops! Why Everyone Owes Everyone and No One Can Pay), and now, as a novelist, a long work of fiction, Capital, seeking to explore the complexities exposed by the unravelling of the world economy.
Lanchester’s is not the first fictional assault on the subject: that honour probably goes to Sebastian Faulks’s A Week in December, published in 2009, to say nothing of more recent entrants such as Justin Cartwright’s Other People’s Money and (though it approaches it rather more obliquely) Anne Enright’s The Forgotten Waltz. Yet Lanches- ter’s is certainly the most ambitious. Spanning the 12 months from December 2007 to December 2008, Capital uses the intersecting lives of the inhabitants of an otherwise unremarkable street in an affluent area of south London underpinning c
Chief among and his spoile the owner of th
And the markets come tumbling down in January 2008