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By John Lanchester

The most spoke of books of the yr, Capital is a sweeping social novel via the author hailed at the hide of the hot York occasions e-book assessment as "a brainy, pleasure-loving polymath."Celebrated novelist John Lanchester (author of The Debt to excitement) returns with an epic novel that captures the obsessions of our time. It's 2008 and issues are falling aside: endure Stearns and Lehman Brothers are going below, and the citizens of Pepys street, London—a banker and his shopaholic spouse, an outdated lady loss of life of a mind tumor and her graffiti-artist grandson, Pakistani store vendors and a shadowy refugee who works because the meter maid, the younger football celebrity from Senegal and his minder—are receiving nameless postcards analyzing "We wish What You Have." who's at the back of it? What do they wish? Epic in scope but intimate, shooting the normal dramas of very diverse lives, this can be a novel of affection and suspicion, of economic cave in and terrorist possibility, of estate values going up and fortunes taking place, and of a urban at a second of amazing rigidity.

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Extra resources for Capital

Example text

Why, then, sell books like baked beans? Or so the British book trade felt. As a result of this cultural resistance, the first reliable lists did not arrive in the UK until the mid-1970s, when the Bookseller began 16 assembling them for the trade, and The Sunday Times began making them available to the reading public. Over following years they became an established feature of the British book world, which has in other ways accommodated to American high-pressure salesmanship – more so after the abolition of the NBA in 1995, and the evolution of the traditional high street bookstore into something virtually indistinguishable from the American hyperstore.

Amazon’s new and used title catalogue grows weekly. With a couple of keystroke clicks and a number inscribed in plastic, the reader has a choice of some two million fiction titles, and more every year. There are so many novels that even if one dedicated one’s whole life to reading them, and doing little else, one would – novel in hand on one’s deathbed – only have scratched the surface of the fiction mountain. Why, then, are so many million citizens reading the one, or the top ten, or (in recent times) the top hundred novels at any one 25 The modern scene Stampede selling time?

Discriminating readers ‘browsed’, like ruminant beasts chewing the cud in an English meadow; they did not ‘stampede’ like maddened cattle across the Great Plains. The high sales pressure associated with American styles of bestsellerism cramped, it was felt, the range of bookshops’ stock. Beneath mountainous piles of whatever ‘the book of the moment’, worthy books struggled to be seen. Books did not ‘compete’ with each other – they were ‘different’, as a successful 1960 British legal defence of retail price maintenance insisted (successfully; the Net Book Agreement was judged ‘legal’).

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