A Stranger City (Paperback)Linda Grant (author)
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WINNER OF THE WINGATE LITERARY PRIZE 2020 `A superb piece of writing about London life. Past Wingate winners include Zadie Smith, Amos Oz and David Grossman'
'[A] shimmering new novel . . . Grant's book is as much a love letter to London as a lament, an ode to pink skin after sunny days and lost gloves waving from railings' The Economist
'A compelling portrait of contemporary London, it's a novel fit for shifting, uncertain times' Suzi Feay, Financial Times
'A Stranger City feels like a very important novel for right now: no politically ponderous diatribe but a witty, sunlounger-accessible and deeply humanising story about people - about us - and the societal shipwreck we're stuck in' Evening Standard
When a dead body is found in the Thames, caught in the chains of HMS Belfast, it begins a search for a missing woman and confirms a sense that in London a person can become invisible once outside their community - and that assumes they even have a community. A policeman, a documentary film-maker and an Irish nurse named Chrissie all respond to the death of the unknown woman in their own ways. London is a place of random meetings, shifting relationships - and some, like Chrissie intersect with many. The film-maker and the policeman meanwhile have safe homes with wives - or do they? An immigrant family speaks their own language only privately; they have managed to integrate - or have they? The wonderful Linda Grant weaves a tale around ideas of home; how London can be a place of exile or expulsion, how home can be a physical place or an idea. How all our lives intersect and how coincidence or the randomness of birth place can decide how we live and with whom.
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Number of pages: 336
Weight: 260 g
Dimensions: 196 x 126 x 24 mm
[A] shimmering new novel . . . Grant's book is as much a love letter to London as a lament, an ode to pink skin after sunny days and lost gloves waving from railings * The Economist *
The novel is fleet-footed . . . Londoners of all ages, backgrounds and hues throng the novel . . . The plot's seemingly haphazard quality mirrors the contingency of urban life but the way Grant makes even the minor characters flare into life gives the novel richness and depth. A compelling portrait of contemporary London, it's a novel fit for shifting, uncertain times -- Suzi Feay * Financial Times *
Grant conveys how these sentiments affect her individuals with insightful emotional accuracy * Sunday Times *
This is no weighty, state-of-the-nation tome to be struggled through. Grant tackles Brexit, terrorism, acid attacks, racism, social media, climate change - every headline which daily sends seismic shudders through London - with the lightest of touches. This is a book to whizz through breathlessly. And to laugh at. There are great deadpan vignettes . . . Grant is a piercing analyst of relationships too (her Austen-like knack for narratorial irony is particularly delicious when dissecting Alan and Francesca's early romance). Such humour serves only to emphasise the disturbing storyline. Invented events (terrorist van-rammings, weeks of snow, mass deportations) are disorientingly plausible, and Grant's London develops into a dystopia. At least, dystopia as I'm writing this - who knows how prescient her plot twists may be? A Stranger City feels like a very important novel for right now: no politically ponderous diatribe but a witty, sunlounger-accessible and deeply humanising story about people - about us - and the societal shipwreck we're stuck in * Evening Standard *
Stranger City is a lush love letter to London that asks questions about what cost Brexit will have on [Grant's] adopted city and its diverse inhabitants . . . the history and ideas about what makes a city tick tumble out of her pen, and she draws her characters with a realist's attention to detail * The Times *
[A] stunning novel . . . Grant weaves together lots of intricate strands into a meaningful, poignant tale about the loneliness and randomness of big-city life -- Joanne Finney * Good Housekeeping *
There's a Dickensian quality to the opening scene of Grant's seventh novel, yet it's one of the most bitingly contemporary publications of the year - a shifting, polyphonic narrative that seamlessly braids terrorism, climate change, racism, social media and, of course, Brexit -- Hephzibah Anderson * Mail on Sunday *
There is a richness in this novel, found in a migrant experience that is deeply embedded rather than distinct from its environment. Everyone has a complex heritage; even comfortable, integrated lives seem precarious . . . the real achievement of A Stranger City is the way in which its narrative is as fractured and uncertain as the London it portrays. And despite its contemporary relevance, the novel avoids becoming a "state of the nation" tract - it's far too emotionally intelligent for that. It's as much a novel of feelings as ideas, and this is what makes it a compelling read -- Jake Arnott * Guardian *
One of the great novels about London. Unsparing about what makes it ugly, cold-hearted, fractured; but also a hymn of love, full of characters so generously, so compassionately portrayed. And, of course, it's beautifully written -- Tom Holland * @holland_tom *
I really enjoyed A Stranger City a book that begins with a body in the Thames and with a bold nod at Dickens's Our Mutual Friend. This is a dangerous London of bristling present and haunting future, in which nothing is quite as it seems and everyone has a past that may stretch tolerance or demand surveillance. It's a gripping read -- Lisa Appignanesi * Tablet *
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