|English Dept. Book Club
John Lanchester's Capital follows a small cross-section of the inhabitants of one south London street, and the people who come to work for them, over a year, in which the settled citizens interact with the newcomers who are trying to negotiate a place for themselves in British society. Among them are a Polish man working as a builder, a well-educated Hungarian woman who takes a job as a nanny, a Senegalese footballer being groomed for stardom at great expense, and also Quentina, a hated local traffic warden, who is a political refugee from Zimbabwe with a university degree, and can support herself only by paying for a forged work permit. All of them have to be tough, drawing on their wits, prepared to adapt themselves to what is required, ready to accept and brush aside humiliation. Their experience of London counterpoints with that of the luckier inhabitants.
John Lanchester’s documentation is sharp and vivid as he follows their adventures: now we know what it feels like not to get your expected bonus at the bank, and what it's like to be arrested before dawn, manhandled, handcuffed and carried off to a police cell without explanation or any mention of your rights as a citizen.
Join me on Wednesday 11th March at 7.30 p.m. in classroom 3.13 to discuss the book.