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The Rotters' Club (Rotters' Club #1)

3.95  ·  Rating Details  ·  6,380 Ratings  ·  321 Reviews
Birmingham, England, c. 1973: industrial strikes, bad pop music, corrosive class warfare, adolescent angst, IRA bombings. Four friends: a class clown who stoops very low for a laugh; a confused artist enthralled by guitar rock; an earnest radical with socialist leanings; and a quiet dreamer obsessed with poetry, God, and the prettiest girl in school. As the world appears t ...more
Paperback, 415 pages
Published February 4th 2003 by Vintage (first published February 22nd 2001)
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Community Reviews

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Nov 04, 2014 Taylor rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people who like their novels to have a little bit of everything
Much to my delight, this held up very strong on the second read. Before I re-read it, I browsed through some of the reviews others had written on this site, and it made me nervous - maybe I just loved this book so much because I was young and it's about youth, so I just connected to it out of a common vim and vigor.

Not the case.

Not only did I love it the second time around, I think I liked it even more.

As much as I don't like to compare authors so much, I can't help but describe this as Rushdie
Dec 17, 2013 Eleni rated it it was amazing
‘Great guy wishes groovy chick to write, into Tull, Pink Floyd, 17-28.’

‘Wanted girl friend, any age, but 4 ft. 10 in. or under, all letters answered.’

“Guy, 18, cat lover, seeks London chick, into Sabbath. Only Freaks please.”

“Freaky Guy (20) wants crazy chick (16+) for love. Into Quo and Zep”

Leeds boy with scooter, looks OK, seeks girlfriend 17-21 for discos, concerts. Photo appreciated

[Note: the above are quotations from genuine lonely hearts advertisements in Sounds (1973)]

Why the hell had I n
Oct 21, 2012 Tahira rated it liked it
It took me at least 100 pages to finally settle into The Rotter's Club. It certainly does not fit the kind of profile of book that I tend to read, but I was feeling a little uninspired and this book was recommended to me.

It was hard to keep track of the layered plot lines initially, but I eventually got a hold of them. I also felt as though I would have been better equipped had I known more about Britain during the 1970s. But there was something charming about a lot of the characters, perhaps be
Justin Evans
May 15, 2011 Justin Evans rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
This gave me almost everything I want. What do I want from a novel? I want it funny but sincere; hard-nosed but sentimental; readable but formally interesting; restrained but also balls to the wall. Ideally it'll be concerned with social events while grounding them in personal lives.
RC isn't laugh out loud funny, but it's pretty funny. I felt a bit bad laughing at people who get excited at the culinary possibilities of sour cream and sometimes Coe takes too many cheap shots of the 'boy the seve
May 06, 2012 Paolo rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Il club dei rotter (il titolo originale, preso in prestito da una canzone, è un gioco di parole con il cognome della famiglia del protagonista principale del romanzo, Benjamin Trotter) lascia soddisfatti a metà. Forse perché il libro è di fatto un incompiuto, separato artificialmente dal suo seguito naturale (pubblicato poi in Circolo chiuso), ma il sapore che resta al termine della lettura copre, fino quasi a sfumarlo, il gusto di aver assistito a un maestoso, cupo affresco dell'Inghilterra deg ...more
Feb 20, 2013 Philtrum rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It’s something of a mystery to me how I missed this book for so many years. It was published in 2001 but I didn’t get around to reading it until 2013.

I had been aware of it, vaguely. Had I know what it was about, I’m sure I would have read it much sooner.

Why? Well, aside from the fact I couldn’t have written it – not having the necessary literary skills – it might have been about my life.

The story concerns a group of four boys who attend a public (private) school in Birmingham (UK) in the 1970s,
Georgina Coutroud
Nov 10, 2013 Georgina Coutroud rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Να και εγώ στον γνώριμο κόσμο-για πολλούς-του Τζόναθαν Κόου.
Και τελικά όσοι μου το έλεγαν είχαν δίκιο,αξίζει.Πολύ!
Υπέροχος λόγος και μετάφραση,αρχικά.Το περιεχόμενο με μετέφερε σε περιοχές και ιστορίες που δεν ήξερα.Επίσης όλο το βιβλίο έχει μουσικές και αυτό το κάνει μοναδικό,με τις υποσημειώσεις του.Επίσης εξαιρετικό το επίμετρο-σχόλιο μιας εποχής άγνωστης στην χώρα μας.Αλήθεια,πόσο φωτίζεται η βρετανική κοινωνία μέσω του Κόου;Πολύ,θα έλεγα.
Οπότε συνεχίζω δυναμικά στον κόσμο του Κόου,καθώς μάλ
Apr 25, 2015 Homer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Απρόσμενα καλό βιβλίο. Το περίμενα ως ένα κλασσικό μυθιστόρημα ενηλικίωσης, κάτι φίλοι στο σχολείο, τυπικά Αγγλάκια που μεγαλώνουν στο αυστηρό βρετανικό εκπαιδευτικό σύστημα. Βασικά είναι ένα πολιτικό βιβλίο, σε μια ταραγμένη Αγγλία στα τέλη της δεκαετίας του 70, εν μέσω απεργιών, και κλείνει με την άνοδο της Θάτσερ στην εξουσία. Οι ενήλικες, γονείς των παιδιών δουλεύουν σε ένα εργοστάσιο που απεργεί, και μεταξύ τους σχέσεις, μέσα σε μια Αγγλία που σείεται. Βιβλίο-μωσαϊκό (αφηγήσεις σε πρώτο κ ...more
Celine Keating
Jul 13, 2014 Celine Keating rated it it was amazing
There is a heartfelt bravura chapter at the end of this novel that is beyond extraordinary. It alone would be worth reading the novel for. I haven't read any other reviews, professional or otherwise, so I may be saying what everyone has already said, but to my mind there were strong echoes of James Joyce and the famous Molly Bloom soliloquy.

There's not a lot of plot here, more an episodic approach to a group of friends, a town, a time, but the writing is so original and the characters so appeali
Paul The Uncommon Reader
Jan 20, 2016 Paul The Uncommon Reader rated it it was amazing
My world

Ah, this is an easy review to write!

I loved this book for entirely selfish and ego-centric reasons: it was written by a man of my nationality, age and social class. It is set in his/my teenage years, and its references, events, feel and whole approach is so close to my own, that every few pages I felt I was back there, a teenager in 1976 whose life centre consisted of pretentious prog rock bands, strange encounters with utterly non world-changing things like girls and personal religion (

Feb 27, 2011 T4ncr3d1 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: inglesi
Istintivamente ci voltammo tutti verso la finestra e guardammo fuori, verso la spiaggia, e adesso quando ripenso a quel pomeriggio il mio ricordo più nitido è la luce che vedemmo, quel cielo da pittori, grigioazzurro come gli occhi di Marie e dei suoi nipoti, il colore di un dolore che non se ne andrà mai.

E' proprio vero: La banda dei Brocchi ha fatto per gli anni Settanta ciò che La famiglia Winshaw aveva fatto per gli anni Ottanta: un ricchissimo spaccato di società e vita inglese durante un d
Dec 25, 2010 Jim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This reminded me of "The Secret Lemonade Drinker", but this book had greater depth (or is that true, when Bellamy's novel has stuck in my memory for such a long time?) A novel like this just usually doesn't appeal to me, and normally I'd be asking "What's the point?" by page five. "What's the point" of creating vaguely comic fiction over vaguely interesting characters set in a vaguely interesting time? But the novel drew me in with its easy style, likeable characters and occasional strong narrat ...more
Jan 13, 2013 Sera rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
I had read The Rain Before It Falls and the House of Sleep by the same writer before. I loved those two books as well but they are definitely not as good as the Rotters' Club. I am even going to say "nothing more than nice reads" when they are compared to this one.

As one of those impressing novels which is both hilarious and touching at the same time with all those bittersweet moments of characters, The Rotters' Club is more than an average coming of age story. The political background and 70s
Germano Dalcielo
Oct 31, 2012 Germano Dalcielo rated it it was ok
Ho comprato questo libro sulla scia delle recensioni entusiastiche che si trovano online, ma, ahimè, già dalle prime 25 pagine volevo lanciare il libro dalla finestra. Si viene catapultati nell'Inghilterra degli anni '70 in un contesto storico-sociale che per un lettore non anglofono non è facile inquadrare o ricostruire su due piedi, per non parlare del "pallottoliere" umano di cui si rinuncia in partenza a fissare parentele, amicizie, legami di sangue o relazioni sentimentali. Si prosegue nell ...more
Oct 15, 2011 lärm rated it it was amazing
The Rotters Club offers an interesting story of teenage life in Britain in the mid seventies with strikes, the IRA, Thatcher and even a wee bit of punkrock as the background setting. While the main protagonist is Benjamin Rotter, different storylines from his friends and relatives make up an integral part of the story as well. Coe uses a mix of writing styles, from narrative to interviews, letters, reviews and even a fair portion of stream of consciousness (that one was the hardest to swallow). ...more
Dec 10, 2013 Kairi rated it it was amazing
Ok it’s official, Jonathan Coe’s books are drugs. But let’s take a step back here. First of all, this was probably the work of Coe that touched me the most and in many different ways. I laughed, gasped, frowned and cried all throughout the story. It reminded me so much of high school, when we were all different, yet stayed the same in the sense that the future wasn’t written for any of us, so anything could happen and in the meantime you could freeze whatever moment you wanted to, just like Benj ...more
Feb 26, 2011 Jane rated it really liked it
A very well written, witty novel. Set in Birmingham in the 70's in the midst of industrial action, IRA bombings, a political time and later on the punk rock era. The story is set in a boy's grammar school very much like the one my husband attended on the other side of Birmingham. Viewed by labour voters, socialists and communists as elite, only attainable by an entrance exam. You feel the competitiveness to achieve in academic studies and sports. It is very easy to imagine school bullies looking ...more
May 22, 2011 Paula rated it really liked it
I guess I'm kind of a sucker for books set in England. I just love to visit there in my imagination. And this book was particularly interesting to me not only because I am roughly the age of the characters, but also because I learned so much about Britain in the 70's. Did you know that Eric Clapton once went on a racist rant at one of his concerts in England in the mid-70's? I had never heard that. I also didn't know that there were so many strikes and so much labor unrest at that time. But real ...more
Nov 20, 2007 Rowan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was really good! The plot and characters twist, and sometimes I did have to go back and re-read sections to recall who was who, but that adds to the fun of the story.

Four families, their stories told mostly by their school age sons, live in Birmingham in the 70's. The book is about England in those times (Freaks, the music scene, hippies, punk, the unions, the working class, the Jamaican immigrants, the IRA) and how lives of ordinary people are impacted by the changing times. Since the main
Anna Savage
Oct 06, 2009 Anna Savage rated it liked it
The jacket played this novel up as comedic and hysterically funny, and although that's not entirely false, it skewed my attitude going in and possibly made me like the book less. I kept expecting to laugh, and I didn't. Not even once. The story is just as sad and nostalgic as it is funny. That's not a bad thing, but it did seem a little conflicted in tone throughout. I also hated the obviously set up to be made into a movie structure of the story, and the fact that it ends entirely without resol ...more
Adelina Gabriela
Mar 23, 2016 Adelina Gabriela rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, series, teens, romance
Pe fundalul unei Anglii care se scaldă în mări învolburate, "Clubul putregaiurilor" surprinde în adevăratul sens al cuvântului adolescența. Tipicăriile specifice vârstei îmbinate cu o psihologie conturată fin, fac din cartea lui Coe o combinație surprinzătoare între "Freaks and Geeks" și "The Breakfast Club" din punct de vedere al personajelor. Anxietatea și tensiunile tinerilor par a-și avea originea în niște ani '70 tumultoși.
O carte despre frici și temeri, despre eșecuri și reușite, despre t
Dec 27, 2014 Elisa rated it it was ok
I feel bad about giving this 2 stars, because I love the way Jonathan Coe writes. But unfortunately I only made it to the three quarters mark before I decided not to continue. It's not a bad story, but it's so slow. I just got too bored. If it was a quarter of the length, I'd probably give it 4 stars. It doesn't help that I'm not interested in politics either, this being a major part of the story. I mainly like the way he writes about relationships and interactions, but affair after affair begin ...more
Apr 08, 2008 Tom rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A glimpse into the decade in which I was born but never knew.

Whether teenage to adult, prog rock to punk, Labour to Tory, racist to tolerant or loner to lover this is a sometimes unnecessarily repulsive but often hilarious story of a group of teenagers and a nation growing up and changing - for better or worse.

Some reviewers complained of being bogged down by too many characters and interweaving stories but I didn't find this confusing or offputting at all.

An enjoyable and easy read which makes
Phyllis Sommers
Aug 29, 2015 Phyllis Sommers rated it really liked it
A very interesting story of four male high schoolers in early 1970s Birmingham, England: Benjamin Trotter, Douglas Anderton, Philip Chase and Sean Harding. As the novel opens we meet Sophie and Patrick, one a child of one of the four boys, the other a child of one of the boys' siblings. Sophie and Patrick are introduced when their respective parents are unexpectedly reunited when visiting Berlin in 2003. Although we might guess, early on, at the identity of Sophie's mother and Patrick's father, ...more
Nella mia scala di giudizio su aNobii le quattro stelline sono piuttosto prestigiose - e credo che non sia una grande rivelazione. Ha qualcosa in meno di un libro con il grado massimo, ma è comunque molto buono. Tre stelle, invece, è quel libro "bravo ma no": un sei d'incoraggiamento, diciamo, più positivo che negativo.
Però, per me le tre stelle de "La banda dei brocchi" sono meno lusinghiere di quello che sembrano. Jonathan Coe, mi ha abituato a libri molto migliori: romanzi che, se fosse stato
Dec 11, 2014 Riccardo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Vorrei poter evitare di iniziare la recensione con una frase che in questo momento mi suona un po' troppo costruita, ma non posso. E quindi eccola qui: nella vita di un lettore, esistono dei libri imprescindibili che lui considerer sempre come se fossero stati scritti per lui e non aspettassero altro che lui per essere letti. Nella mia vita di lettore, Norwegian Wood sicuramente uno di questi.
E visto che lo sto scrivendo, non ci metterete molto a capire che anche La Banda dei Brocchi lo . Quest
Mike Cruden
Sep 17, 2014 Mike Cruden rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the second Jonathan Coe book I've read, the other being What a Carve-Up, and I've enjoyed them both tremendously. This one recounts the adolescent coming-of-age of a number of middle class and intelligent teenagers, set in the contexts of a boys' grammar school, Birmingham and the seventies with all the political and social implications of the above very effectively and entertainingly explored, albeit with a strong socialist tint, which thoroughly resonated with me. In fact, all of the a ...more
Przemek Jaślan
Aug 31, 2015 Przemek Jaślan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: over-400-pages
A quick and easy read. Well constructed, but full of cheap melodrama.
And certainly not as funny as the blurb claims (although the prog-rock album review from the school magazine was genuinely funny).
Jan 23, 2013 Ernesthc rated it it was amazing
It's tempting to categorise "The Rotters' Club" as a light coming-of-age comic read, a Liebfraumilch and scampi and chips of a book. However, it is much more than this. Coe recreates Birmingham in the seventies realistically and comically. Through Ben Trotter (Bent Rotter), he depicts convincingly a clever grammar school boy whose emergence into adulthood is a growing awareness that the adult world is tedious and small-minded, yet sinisterly menacing.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from this, given that my only previous experience with this author came from ‘Like a Fiery Elephant’, his excellent (and quite idiosyncratic) biography of B. S. Johnson. The only suggestion I’d gleaned was that here was a writer wedded to a kind of gentle experimentalism, a playful innovator in the richly English comic vein of Fielding and Defoe; someone who’d be aware of all kinds of formal literary innovations without being over-committed to any one of them. And af ...more
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Jonathan Coe, born 19 August 1961 in Birmingham, is a British novelist and writer. His work usually has an underlying preoccupation with political issues, although this serious engagement is often expressed comically in the form of satire. For example, What a Carve Up! rew
More about Jonathan Coe...

Other Books in the Series

Rotters' Club (2 books)
  • The Closed Circle (Rotters' Club, #2)

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“Sometimes I feel that I am destined always to be offstage whenever the main action occurs. That God has made me the victim of some cosmic practical joke, by assigning me little more than a walk-on part in my own life. Or sometimes I feel that my role is simply to be a spectator to other people's stories, and always to wander away at the most important moment, drifiting into the kitchen to make a cup of tea just as the denouement unfolds.” 25 likes
“These pieces, he already realised, were merely stepping stones at the start of a journey towards something - some grand artefact, either musical, or literary, or filmic, or perhaps a combination of all three - towards which he knew he was advancing, slowly but with a steady, inexorable tread. Something which would enshrine his feelings for Cicely, and which she would perhaps hear, or read, or see in ten or twenty years' time, and suddenly realize, on her pulse, that it was created for her, intended for her, and that of all the boys who had swarmed around her like so many drones at school, Benjamin had been, without her having the wit to notice it, by far the purest in heart, by far the most gifted and giving. On that day the awareness of all she had missed, all she had lost, would finally break upon her in an instant, and she would weep; weep for her foolishness, and of the love that might have been between them.

Of course, Benjamin could always just have spoken to her, gone up to her in the bus queue and asked her for a date. But this seemed to him, on the whole, the more satisfactory approach.”
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