Fol­low­ing in the steps of Dick­ens

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Books - James Bradley

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

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