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Number 11

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3.63  ·  Rating details ·  3,565 ratings  ·  447 reviews
This is a novel about the hundreds of tiny connections between the public and private worlds and how they affect us all.

It's about the legacy of war and the end of innocence.

It's about how comedy and politics are battling it out and comedy might have won.

It's about how 140 characters can make fools of us all.

It's about living in a city where bankers need cinemas in their
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Paperback, 351 pages
Published November 11th 2015 by Penguin (first published November 2015)
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Popular Answered Questions
Suburbanfunster I appreciate it's been two years since you asked this question but having just read the book it seems to need an answer.

I think the question is they…more
I appreciate it's been two years since you asked this question but having just read the book it seems to need an answer.

I think the question is they are not real, but then neither is anything else in the book. Coe has form for this - he writes a novel rich in social realism, then in the last few pages he pulls a joke on the reader, as if to remind us we've been reading fiction all along.

My hunch is that this is a Lord of the Rings reference (Coe attended the same school as JRR Tolkien, and Tolkien often appears somewhat tangentially in several of his novels.) The dwarves of middle earth delved too deep in the mines of Moria and awoke the "nameless terror" in the darkness. I think Coe is (very much tongue in cheek) implying that the greed and selfishness of the Winshaws have done the same in North London. I loved it.(less)
Benjamin +1, no need to read previous books. But now that I've finished it (it was my first from this author) I'm quite curious about his other work.

Community Reviews

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Hugh
Sep 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern-lit, read-2016
Jonathan Coe is always entertaining, so it is no surprise that this book is a page-turner. It is also an incisive satire that says much about the strangeness and inequality at the heart of modern Britain.

This is a sequel to his earlier book What a Carve Up!, which was part satire of Thatcherite values and part homage to 50s and 60s British film comedies. In the earlier book, the Winshaw family caricatured many of the more venal aspects of the society of the day in the same way as the D'Ascoynes
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·Karen·
Farce treats the improbable as probable, the impossible as possible.
(George Pierce Baker)

Trouble is, it seems that nothing is impossible;

Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary.

I went online to check the date of that appalling incident of the Chinese cockle pickers who died in Morecambe Bay - it does play a role in Number 11 - and found that someone wants to make it into a musical.

And while a lot of the British press have gone into meltdown over the fact that a woman-shaped human is now leading
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Rebecca
This is a funny and mildly disturbing state-of-England and coming-of-age novel. I’d only read one previous book by Coe, Expo 58, an unrepresentative 1950s-set comedy, so this is a better example of his usual pattern: multiple, loosely linked storylines. Here the theme is the absurdity of modern culture, encompassing many aspects: unjust wars, the excesses of the uber-rich, the obsession with celebrity, and suspicion and exclusion of those who are different from us. The number 11 keeps popping ...more
Blair
I felt so despondent when I finished this book that I literally lay on my bed, in the dark, in a state of what I can only describe as existential despair, thinking, well what do I do now? That was how much I enjoyed it - so much that I felt distraught when I knew it was over.

Completely addictive – and what a fantastic return to form after the lacklustre Expo 58. I read this at breakneck speed, barely able to tear myself away from it. It tells interconnected stories that revolve around two women,
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Mark
Nov 01, 2015 rated it it was ok
What the... what the what now?! I loved the Jonathan Coe of What a Carve Up and The Rotters Club, but this is as far from that intelligent, warm humour as you may find yourself on a misty winter's night in Chelsea. I can't begin to describe what this book is. But it is a mess. Maybe Coe was under pressure to produce a book by Penguin and found six notebooks in his drawers and gaffa-taped them together and handed it in to his editor? That is about as plausible as the tale he tries to tell in this ...more
Simona (Tabata774)
Jul 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-reads
This book is a fierce criticism of modern society with its absurdity. It's tragic and comic at the same time.In the short stories that come up with the books, Coe faces different themes and heats different literary genres. It's ,however, a quick reading.
Gumble's Yard
Jan 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016
A follow up to "What a Carve Up" both:

In style - a social satire on the times mixed with levels of farce and ending with a horror B-movie style mass murder of the guilty;

In characters - with the key villains all being linked in some ways to the legacy of the third generation Winshaw's (the daughter of Hilary a online columnist in Hilary's tradition, Mark's wife who has turned his arms firm into a profit making aggressively entrepreneurial arms clearance business, the head of an arts prize set
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Mandy
Dec 19, 2015 rated it did not like it
What’s happened to Jonathan Coe? Did his publisher insist he write another book and Coe shrugged his shoulders and said “Oh, if I must”? Or has he simply run out of inventive steam? This book reprises many of the themes that made his previous novels so entertaining and incisive, biting satires on all the evils of modern life – greed, capitalism, political ambition – and here admittedly he comes up to date and adds a few more – reality TV, bullying on social media and so on. So the satire is ...more
Mari Biella
This was, I'm ashamed to admit, my first Jonathan Coe novel. I'm really not sure how I reached this point in my life without having read any of his work before - and, as with many such firsts, I find myself wondering what I might have been missing. Number 11 really is a good, if strange, novel - or rather, perhaps, a group of loosely-connected novellas.

Straddling several genres - social realism, satire, mystery, literary fiction and horror - Number 11 is a scary, scathing and often funny
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Jack Messenger
Nov 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
Jonathan Coe’s eleventh novel is a metafictional labyrinth of allusions and connections to films, literary works and his own previous books (notably, What a Carve Up!), and another of his polymorphous ‘state of the nation’ addresses. It is a work of enormous confidence, audacity and inventiveness that takes the reader on an intriguing journey from past to present, from Birmingham via Beverley in Yorkshire to Australia and South Africa and London, from innocence to something very dark indeed.

I
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Veronica
Nov 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Even when he's not at his best, Jonathan Coe provides sheer reading pleasure. You can settle happily into his books knowing you're going to enjoy them. This is a kind of sequel to his wonderful What A Carve Up!, that searing satire on rampant Thatcherism (which Coe now wrongly describes as "preachy" and "crude and simplistic"). Coe is still angry, but he's got more weary and cynical since then (but the ending of this book is just as bonkers as the ending of What A Carve-Up!). And once again ...more
Caterina
Jonathan Coe is one of the most popular foreign authors here in Greece. He has a dedicated following - especially among young readers - and every new publication is always celebrated. There are many reasons why this happens. Perhaps Coe captures today's social and financial circumstances better than anyone else and adds his merciless satire to that. And this is exactly what we need! Thought-provoking material, political farce, well-drawn characters are all very frequent elements of his novels.
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Robert
Sep 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
2018 reread review:

https://thebobsphere.wordpress.com/20...


My favourite book of all time is Jonathan Coe's What a Carve Up! (here's the review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...) after I read House of Sleep and The Rotter's Club. Stupidly I stopped reading Jonathan Coe after that.

Then last year I came across Number 11 in a book sale. It was selling for 5 euro so I bought it, however due to my system the book came up and I read it, curious if Coe had lost his spark.

He hasn't

Number 11 is a
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Arhondi
Jul 10, 2016 rated it liked it
I will try and forgive Coe for this book, as he's written What a Carve Up!
Perhaps he had a contract obligation to his publisher or something.
A poor story, which tries to be current but in the end becomes cliche, linked together in a completely unreasonable way that makes no sense. By the end of it you're just relieved it's over.
We all make mistakes, I'll see this as one of his.
lucky little cat
Witty and sparkling satire of modern life zeroes in on London to wonderful effect.

Outsider artist Josep Baquè (1895-1967) gets a shout-out in Jonathan Coe's novel Number 11. Do NOT go down to the basement. Ever.
Here's the only novel ever where a food bank is a major rendezvous point. Burning questions: Can Lady Gunn really expand her Chelsea mansion's basement eleven storeys? (Including bowling alley, home theater, pool with palm trees and one spacious empty level just in case.) Will the
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frannie pan
Just effing brilliant!

my Thoughts on Youtube.
Stephen
May 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
interesting interconnected stories based around the time and aftermath of the blair government up to the coalition government and how underlying political social economics issues effect people in little ways and the author makes all the stories very personal
Tillandsia
May 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Immensely enjoyable book; literally very difficult to put down. It is very well-written, interesting, suspenseful, funny, but also very moving. Yes, it is a satire on contemporary British politics and society, as all the blurbs say, but if it was just that, it would not be very remarkable; after all, the objects of its satire aren't that original: wasteful and arrogant rich people, stupid reality shows, irresponsible journalists attacking the most disenfranchised - yes, we already know all of ...more
Andrew Robins
Dec 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Started reading this book on the Saturday evening, finished it on Sunday night. In the time between, a decent chunk of the weekend passed by. I couldn't tell you much about it, though, as I was too engrossed in this book.

Joanthan Coe does marvellous social satire, and is probably best known for What a Carve Up! - his satire of Britain in the 1980s. Number 11 is apparently a follow up to WACU, although only in loose, general terms. I haven't read WACU (but will be doing so soon), so can't really
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Brian
Sep 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A satire on the commodification of modern life, Number 11 begins with ten year old Rachel and her brother visiting their grandparents in their quiet suburban house. Her brother drops out of the story entirely but Rachel grows older, goes to Oxford and becomes a tutor to the children of a super-rich family.

The story also follows the fortunes of Rachel's school-friend Alison and her mother, a former pop-star who only ever had one-hit. Alison becomes an unemployed art-student and is set up by a
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Vanessa Norhausen
Feb 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The joys of reading contemporary authors in the days of social media is that sometimes you're lucky enough to receive a response if you ask them politely about their work. I was one of those lucky people when I asked Jonathan Coe if he'd consider this book a sequel to What a Carve up! and he told me that indeed he did. And reading this book, it just makes so much sense. It may not be a sequel in the classical sense as a continuation of plot, but it certainly is in spirit. The Winshaw family ...more
Neil Fox
Nov 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I found myself inadvertently humming New Order's "State of the Nation" while reading Jonathan Coe's superb " Number 11". What opens as as an adult version of an Enid Blyton girls' school holidays adventure yarn transforms itself into a grim and gritty satire on modern British life and society. Here we find all that ails us - austerity (the image of a low-income working mother riding a circular bus route round and round to avoid sitting in a lonely house she can't afford to heat is particularly ...more
Jennifer
Jan 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I surprised myself with how much I enjoyed this book. I never would have picked it up -- and I would have given up early -- had it not been my book club's selection this month. It is truly weird, in all ways. Each chapter has a slightly different tone. There are multiple main characters. There are a lot of absurd elements (e.g. monster spiders) and over-the-top developments. The reader isn't really clear about what's going on for the first half of the book. It's very British (and thank you to ...more
Judith
Jan 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, on-my-shelf
Well that was interesting
R.
Feb 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
A Whopper that Sizzles
While not as dense and Dickensian as Coe's Winshaw Legacy, Coe's magnum opus ode to the modern tendency towards mordancy, Number 11 displays a doctor's sure thumb on the pulse of the post-911 world. I wouldn't call it a novel proper as it is done up in that Frankenstein patchwork popularized by David Mitchell - interconnected novellas; jokes are planted that reap later rewards. I especially enjoyed the romantic subplot of the "Nate of the Station" story, which reminded me
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Lindsay
Oct 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Originally posted at: https://bookboodle.wordpress.com/2016...

In my best Sesame Street voice this book is brought to you by the Number 11 and the characters Rachel and Alison! I say this because it's like a series of short stories in one linked by the initial characters.

I'm not gonna lie I opened this book and saw the small black type and my heart sank but actually it's really easy to get into and read despite the tiny type. In a nutshell it's the story of Rachel and Alison and their friendship
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Ben Gould
Jan 13, 2016 rated it liked it
I do enjoy a good Jonathan Coe. His style can be deceptively simple, very readable to the point of almost being too basic, but then he will slip in a delicate piece of imagery or character insight which really hits home.

I think the plot lets him down in Number 11. Coe clearly wanted to write a modern-day sort-of sequel to the excellent What A Carve-Up! and deftly addresses some key political and social issues affecting modern Britain, but this doesn't have the same structure as its predecessor
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Stephen Goldenberg
Apr 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
As a big fan of 'What a Carve Up', I was very keen to read this as it sounded like a very similar satire updated to the here and now. And, for the most part, it's very enjoyable. Yes, all the targets are very obvious - reality TV shows, tax avoiders, the super rich excavating vast basements in their Chelsea houses. If it has any faults then it is that there are too many targets and there's some overload towards the end (plus an ending that I couldn't relate to).
However, all of Jonathan Coe's
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Simon Mcleish
Feb 06, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
My low score for this is based on how much Number 11 fell short of what I expected from the reviews. Sharp, clever and funny satire was promised, but I found it dull, obvious, and mildly amusing satire, with characters I struggled to care about in any way.
Cat
Jan 25, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: lgbt-related
I really wanted to like this book, but found the writing style unwieldy. This would have been manageable had the story been engaging, but unfortunately I can't remember the last time I was so patronised by an author. This work is much too didactic: we are told what to think, not given information and the space to come to our own conclusions. I appreciate that this can be a feature of satire, but on such occasions the author normally balances the tone with humour.
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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!
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“Από το κέντρο του κάθε τραπεζιού, μετακινήθηκε ένα μικρό κυκλικό κομμάτι, σαν καταπακτή, από χέρια που ήταν στην αρχή ορατά• και μέσα από κάθε άνοιγμα που δημιουργήθηκε, εμφανίστηκε ένα αντρικό κεφάλι. Εξήντα διαφορετικά αντρικά κεφάλια σε εξήντα διαφορετικά τραπέζια. Τα σώματά τους παρέμεναν κάτω από τα τραπέζια, αόρατα. (...)

«Καλησπέρα σας», είπε το κεφάλι. «Λέγομαι Ντόριαν και θα είμαι το ζωντανό μενού σας απόψε. Θα βρίσκομαι εδώ όλο το βράδυ, για να σας μιλήσω για το φαγητό και για να σας απαντήσω σε οποιαδήποτε ερώτηση έχετε σχετικα μ’αυτό. Φοβάμαι πως δεν μπορώ να σας μιλήσω για κανένα άλλο θέμα. Ούτε, δυστυχώς, μου επιτρέπεται να φάω ή να πιω οτιδήποτε από τα νόστιμα πιάτα τα οποία θα σας παρουσιάσω σε λίγο. Μη με λυπάστε πολύ, σας παρακαλώ, πληρώνομαι πολυ καλά για την αποψινή μου δουλειά και θα πάρω σπίτι μου μια γενναιόδωρη τσάντα με ό,τι περισσέψει. Λοιπόν, χωρίς καμία περαιτέρω καθυστέρηση, επιτρέψτε μοιυ να σας παρουσιάσω τα πρώτα πιάτα του αποψινού νόστιμου μπουφέ. Κυρίες και κύριοι, προετοιμάστε τον ουρανίσκο σας για μια επιλογή των εκπληκτικών ορεκτικών του σεφ μας!»”
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