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Capital by John Lanchester
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Capital (original 2012; edition 2012)

by John Lanchester

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7934611,583 (3.84)93
Member:blokesbookclub
Title:Capital
Authors:John Lanchester
Info:Faber and Faber (2012), Edition: 1st Edition 2nd Printing, Hardcover, 592 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***1/2
Tags:Novel

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Capital by John Lanchester (2012)

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English (43)  German (1)  Piratical (1)  Spanish (1)  All (46)
Showing 1-5 of 43 (next | show all)
This book started off like a small rock slowing rolling down a snowy hill that eventually turns into an avalanche. What you are left with at the end of the novel is silence and white powder.

John Lanchester’s novel borrows its title from the famous Karl Marx and his “Das Kapital”. Although, the book is not exclusively about a struggle between the proletariat and bourgeois. Rather, it is a more complex observation of how we, in a modern society value, treat, and exchange money and capital.

The novel, for me, felt very Dickens-esque. The story is set in London, and like in a Dickens novel, the city itself is its own awe-inspiring character. Lanchester follows a group of people who either live or are connected to the people who live on Pepsy Road. He slowly weaves the characters into each other, until at the end of the novel their lives become almost all intertwined.

I would suggest that if any one is interested in understanding more about Lanchester’s ideas that they should read his nonfiction novel “Whoops: Why Everyone Owes Everyone and Why No One Can Pay”. Lanchester looks at the rich who feel poor, the poor who know the value of money, and the middle class that are in between in name and nature.

For me, one of the most powerful lines in the book was delivered by the character Smitty, an anonymous artist who goes around London pulling off art stunts. He says:

The stuff which can’t be sold, that’s the stuff which makes everything else seem real. You can’t commodify this shit. Which is the whole point” (p.82).

The book has a strong themes of debt and profit, but not just in the financial understanding of these words. It is about familial ties and obligations that stretch from Mary helping her sick mother, and the Kamals coming together when Shahid is imprisoned. These obligations to family can also be spoken of as debts and profits. And this is the stuff you can’t sell. As Smitty would say, “You cant commodify this shit.”

The book is fairly long, closed to 600 pages, but it is well worth the read. There is always something happening and as each chapter swaps from family to family, you are spurred on to read one more chapter to find out what happens to each family.

( )
  bound2books | Feb 12, 2017 |
A great big fat Brit novel, opening with strange postcards being sent to residents of upscale Pepys Road, London: WE WANT WHAT YOU HAVE. Well, who wouldn't? It's mostly mansions full of rich people in the runup to the financial crisis. But there's also a Pakistani family-owned corner shop, a Polish contractor, a Hungarian nanny, a traffic warden, and an elderly lady dying of cancer, with a secret in the attic. The rich family, especially the horribly spoiled Real Housewife of London, provides great contrast to the other neighbors who are just trying to get by. Multi PoVs, humor, and realism make this a perfect read for a few long winter's days. And it's not predictable at all. No stereotypes allowed. ( )
  froxgirl | Nov 30, 2016 |
apr 2013
masterpiece
mine was published 2012 ( )
  MatkaBoska | Jun 15, 2016 |
We Want What You Have..... the residents of Pepys Road are targeted by a campaign of cards with pictures their front doors on them. Then we get meet the people behind the doors, I won't go into analyzing the characters except to say they all want more than they have. Some with good reason.

I enjoy books about London even though I don't live there anymore, and have to say this book spent some time on my Kindle before I started it but its one book that I would read again. ( )
  paperlesspages | May 3, 2016 |
The stories of some of the inhabitants of Pepys Road, London, whose houses are worth a lot of money and who start receiving postcards with the message "We Want What You Have" written on them. This campaign becomes more sinister, but, for me at least, the campaign was the most forgettable thing about the novel; indeed I did forget all about it from time to time. The narrative switches between different characters including an ineffectual City banker and his appalling wife, his malicious deputy at work, their Hungarian nanny, and their Polish builder. Then there is Petunia, who is dying of a brain tumour, her daughter, her Banksy-like artist grandson, her grandson's assistant and the assistant's girlfriend. The third main cluster is the Kamal family, who run the corner shop, consisting of three brothers (one with a family) and their nightmare mother from Lahore.

I found the other storyline surrounding Freddy the football player fairly interesting, but he never really seemed to belong to Pepys Road and Quentina's story was barely linked to the others' at all. It was also sadder than seemed appropriate for the book as a whole. I found this novel very readable, but I had to take regular breaks because it was unrelentingly depressing and sad. There were tiny occasional flashes of humour, but mainly the story consisted of bad things happening to people. While they sometimes deserved what they got, they were usually passive victims of circumstances and the decisions of others, which was frustrating. I had high hopes for some comedy from the visit of Mrs Kamal, but the story went in another direction.

Very British - the entire prologue consists of a discussion of property price fluctuations and I have to admit it drew me in! ( )
  pgchuis | May 3, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 43 (next | show all)
Alle Bewohner der Pepys Road suchen nach ihrem Glück: Roger Yount ist ein erfolgreicher Banker - mit zwei Kindern und einer verwöhnten Ehefrau. Dass er nicht die erwartete 1 Million Pfund Jahresprämie erhält, stürzt die Familie in eine Krise. Nebenan zieht die senegalesische Fußballhoffnung Freddy Kamo mit seinem Vater ein - wird ihm der internationale Durchbruch in einem Premier-League-Club gelingen? Petunia Howe lebte schon in der Pepys Road, als diese noch eine einfache Arbeiterstraße war. Pakistanische Kioskbesitzer stehen unter Terrorverdacht, die nigerianische Politesse ohne Arbeitserlaubnis schreibt Strafzettel und der polnische Handwerker Zbigniew liebt die Frauen, und die Frauen lieben ihn. An einem ganz normalen Tag liegt bei allen stolzen Eigenheimbesitzern dieser Straße eine merkwürdige Nachricht im Briefkasten: »Wir wollen, was ihr habt.« Ein Roman voller Mitgefühl, Humor und Protagonisten, die man nicht mehr missen möchte.
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At 40, Roger Yount is blessed with an expensive life, a stalled marriage and a job in the City. His hoped-for Christmas bonus of a million pounds might seem lavish, but with second homes and nannies to maintain it's starting to look more like a necessity.… (more)

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