In our mad and furious city

Guy Gunaratne, 1984-

Book - 2018

Inspired by the real-life murder of a British army soldier by religious fanatics, Guy Gunaratne's In Our Mad and Furious City is a snapshot of the diverse, frenzied edges of modern-day London. While Selvon, Ardan, and Yusuf organize their lives around soccer, girls, and grime, Caroline and Nelson struggle to overcome pasts that haunt them. Each voice is uniquely insightful, impassioned, and unforgettable, and when stitched together, they trace a brutal and vibrant tapestry of today's L...ondon. In a forty-eight-hour surge of extremism and violence, these characters' lives are inexorably drawn together in the lead-up to an explosive, tragic climax.

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Subjects
Genres
Psychological fiction
Published
New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux 2018.
Edition
First American edition
Language
English
Item Description
Long-listed for the 2018 Man Booker Prize. Short-listed for the 2018 Gordon Burn Prize. Short-listed for the 2018 Goldsmiths Prize.
Physical Description
278 pages ; 19 cm
ISBN
9780374175771
0374175772
Main Author
Guy Gunaratne, 1984- (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

Gunaratne's explosive first novel centers on the Stones estate, an impoverished neighborhood that contrasts starkly with the nearby grand arch of Wembley stadium. He depicts multiethnic London from five contrasting perspectives, those of Nelson, a first-generation immigrant from Monserrat; Selvon, his London-born son; Yusuf, the son of an imam; Northern Irish Caroline; and her son, Ardan, an aspiring if pessimistic rapper. In the aftermath of the brutal murder of a soldier in broad daylight by extremists (a reference to the 2013 murder of Lee Rigby), the novel begins with palpable tension and urgency, a tone reminiscent of early Bret Easton Ellis. The focus on racial bigotry is markedly like that of Kenneth Steven's 2020 (2018), but Gunaratne's vision is much broader, encompassing the continuing reverberations of British colonialism, ideas of community and identity, and the everyday struggles of his adolescent protagonists. While many will need help decoding the constant slang, Gunaratne's polyvocal tale, longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, etches a rich picture of contemporary London and the recurring, historically rooted racial tensions that dominate it. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Class, racism, and Islamophobia are explored head-on in Gunaratne's Man Booker-longlisted debut. In London, specifically the towering council estates—described as suburban wastelands of "Adidas and... broken windows and overflowing garbage"—three streetwise youths from immigrant families are united by their love of football and American rap music. The three are Yusef, the Pakistani son of a now-deceased imam, raised in the shadow of 9/11 and struggling to care for his tormented brother, Irfan; Ardan, Irish son of Caroline, who fled a family deep with IRA violence; and Selvon, who carries with him a fury that alienates him from his Caribbean-born, politically active father. But their friendship will be tested by the riots following the (real-life) murder of a white soldier by a black Muslim, riots that will bring ethnicity, familial loyalty, and extremism to the forefront as mosques burn at the hands of the vengeful mobs. Written in the working-class dialect of its protagonists, the novel arrives at a piecemeal portrait of contemporary London that manages to be both Gunaratne's savvy rejoinder to nationalist politics and a Faulkner-esque feat of ventriloquism in its own right. (Dec.) Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Teenagers Selvon, Ardan, and Yusuf find their friendship and loyalties gravely tested in the aftermath of a brutal murder of an English soldier.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

A U.S. release of a Man Booker Prize long-listed debut is based on true events and follows the experiences of five haunted residents of a London public housing complex who are drawn together by a 48-hour surge of extremism. Original.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Long-listed for the 2018 Man Booker PrizeShort-listed for the 2018 Gordon Burn PrizeShort-listed for the 2018 Goldsmiths PrizeInspired by the real-life murder of a British army soldier by religious fanatics, Guy Gunaratne’s In Our Mad and Furious City is a snapshot of the diverse, frenzied edges of modern-day London. A crackling debut from a vital new voice, it pulses with the frantic energy of the city’s homegrown grime music and is animated by the youthful rage of a dispossessed, overlooked, and often misrepresented generation.While Selvon, Ardan, and Yusuf organize their lives around soccer, girls, and grime, Caroline and Nelson struggle to overcome pasts that haunt them. Each voice is uniquely insightful, impassioned, and unforgettable, and when stitched together, they trace a brutal and vibrant tapestry of today’s London. In a forty-eight-hour surge of extremism and violence, their lives are inexorably drawn together in the lead-up to an explosive, tragic climax.In Our Mad and Furious City documents the stark disparities and bubbling fury coursing beneath the prosperous surface of a city uniquely on the brink. Written in the distinctive vernaculars of contemporary London, the novel challenges the ways in which we coexist now—and, more important, the ways in which we often fail to do so.