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Night and the City

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4.08  ·  Rating details ·  211 ratings  ·  27 reviews
Harry Fabian has a dream to become the top wrestling promoter in London, but he has a problem: he needs money. Not too much -- only one hundred quid -- but it might as well be a million because he needs the money by the end of the week. What's more, it is the height of the 1930s Depression, he lives in London's Soho, he makes money from selling his girlfriend to men, and t ...more
Paperback, 382 pages
Published November 1st 2001 by iBooks (first published 1938)
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Average rating 4.08  · 
Rating details
 ·  211 ratings  ·  27 reviews


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Jeffrey Keeten
”Every film he had ever seen, and every book he had ever read, rushed together in his brain to form one blazing and magnificent composite, in which he, Fabian, fantastically enlarged, fantastically dressed, leaned backwards in a wild photomontage of champagne bubbles, limousines, diamonds, galloping horses, baize tables, and beautiful women; all whirling and weaving in a deluge of white and yellow chips, and large bank notes; an eternal reduplication of breasts and legs and every conceivable sha ...more
Franky
Aug 13, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: noir
“Many commercial gentlemen are called ‘businessmen’ until they are found out; then they are described as ‘crooks.’”

Look up chump—or for that matter, mug-- in the dictionary and you might see Harry Fabian’s face. A man with a plan, you might call him. Always has something up his sleeve. Wrestling racket? A means to get ahead, staying in front of the other mugs…A hustler on the move…

Within this novel, even the title takes on a bit of symbolism and significance. Night is the time when deals are ma
...more
K.J. Charles
A spectacularly bleak and misanthropic novel of London low life just before WW2 (pimps, prostitutes, wheeler dealers, scammers, blackmailers) set among nightclubs and the wrestling world, both of which the author knew personally. Compellingly horrible---grubs writhing in an immense night, as Rupert Brooke said of Webster, with very little offered in the way of hope for the species, just human selfishness, self-delusion, self-harm and self-indulgence on full sordid display in all their grime. A g ...more
David
Dec 24, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This terrific noir of 1930’s London was a revelation, even though I had seen the fine 1950 movie w/ Richard Widmark, I knew that things would be more vicious and degenerate than the movie. But the real splendor of the novel is the prose, or should I say the dialogue – this would make a fabulous audiobook for a skilled actor or troupe. The prose is a clamor of London voices, high and low, and at the middle of this Dickensian hubbub is one of the most magnificent scoundrels ever written, the grand ...more
Peter
Feb 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviews, 1930s
The darkness...seeped down between the street lamps, poured into basements, and lay deep and stagnant under the porches and the arches of the back streets...Night closed down upon the city.

And here’s Harry Fabian, a ponce on the prowl in “the shifting frontier between the slough of small business and the quagmire of the underworld.” Harry is a no-hoper, a fantasist who makes out that he’s a wide boy but isn’t. Things are going to end badly for Harry...but that’s par for the course in Kersh’s s
...more
Jean-marcel
May 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Blimey, this was good!

My acquaintance with Gerald Kersh's writing began a few years ago, when I read a few short stories in some 1960s fantasy anthologies. I also got a recommendation for Fowler's End, but wasn't really in the mood to read it at the time. Finally, I got a short story anthology as well as the novel Prelude to a Certain Midnight, both of which I thought were absolutely great, and the novel in particular I devoured and reviewed rather enthusiastically last year. Then I went and got
...more
Rob
Feb 21, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a novel well worth reading, for its strengths are immense, as Kersh delves not so much into the underworld, as the book cover would have had me believe, as the depths of the minds and souls of hustlers, specifically Harry Fabian, who is the fully realized and totally repugnant star of this story. Harry is a delusional fool who abuses the trust of others, including that of the woman he purportedly loves, and his ambition drives the story. But he's obviously a loser from the start, and it' ...more
Joshua
Jan 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An absolutely astonishing foray into the seedy underbelly of pre-war London. Elevated miles beyond the average pulp noir fair by the elegant prose stylings of Gerald Kersh that somehow manage to come off as far more poetic than purple.

It is to my detriment that I'd never picked up this novel before. I wish I'd been reading it for years. The film version of the book, excellent in its own right, distills much of the gritty feel into a cogent, brisk plot. The novel itself is quite a different expe
...more
Tosh
Aug 10, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Night and the City" is pretty amazing on different levels. On one end I don't think its a great novel, but as a portrait of a time, place, and a certain type of character its totally ace. Written in 1938 and mostly taking place in Soho London it is a snapshot of a group of hustlers trying to stay above the water-line of sorts.

The main character is Harry Fabian, who for god knows, should be a major iconic fiction figure. But alas, what we have here is a pimp who lives his life in a certain amou
...more
Paul Brazill
Sep 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gerald Kersh’s brilliant 1938 novel Night and the City is ‘a book I wish I’d written’, Rich and darkly beautiful. Cruel and funny. There’s a tidy introduction from John King in this edition, too.

The blurb: Harry Fabian is a ponce, a Flash Harry in an expensive suit, a cockney wide boy who adopts American tones and talks big, yet will never make it to the top. He operates in the Soho of the 1930s, a metropolitan tangle of dodgy geezers, prostitutes, spivs and strong-arm men. Twice filmed, Night a
...more
Andrew Vachss
Nov 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gerald Kersh, who found the flowers in Hell.
Luke
Jan 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2021
Gerald Kersh is someone I'd wanted to read for a while. Harlan Ellison and Michael Moorcock were and are both fans, and the author seems to be one of those, like Poe or Dickens, who managed a hack's volume, but also kept a remarkable quality.



He also looked natty as fuck, let's face it.

Night and the City is a 1938 novel that spawned a classic noir film, which is now likely better known than its source material. Broadly, it concerns a spiv, Harry Fabian who dreams big and is in eternal pursuit o
...more
Williwaw
Aug 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quite some time ago, I saw a movie with the same title, starring Richard Widmark, and it's considered a "noir" classic. Some quick and dirty internet searches divulge that the movie didn't follow the book very closely, and that the director never read the book.

My memory of the film is dim now. But I can say that both the book and the film feature a low-life weasel named Harry Fabian, who is desperate for money so that he can become a wrestling promoter in 1930's London. In the book, Fabian is l
...more
Moloch
Più di dieci anni: tanto ha dovuto aspettare questo libro dal momento in cui ne lessi una recensione sul Corriere della Sera (maggio 2003) a quello in cui finalmente l'ho preso dallo scaffale e letto (ottobre 2013). Al punto che ormai questa edizione che ho è fuori commercio.

Londra, 1938. Harry Fabian è un delinquentello di mezza tacca, sempre alla ricerca di modi per far soldi che poi puntualmente scialacqua subito in alcol, scommesse, bei vestiti e spesucce varie, vive sfruttando i guadagni de
...more
David
Dec 06, 2007 rated it really liked it
This terrific noir of 1930’s London was a revelation, even though I had seen the fine 1950 movie w/ Richard Widmark, I knew that things would be more vicious and degenerate than the movie. But the real splendor of the novel is the prose, or should I say the dialogue – this would make a fabulous audiobook for a skilled actor or troupe. The prose is a clamor of London voices, high and low, and at the middle of this Dickensian hubbub is one of the most magnificent scoundrels ever written, the grand ...more
Guy Salvidge
Nov 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This would be five stars except that Kersh doesn't actually seem to be able to construct a plot. Great characters and dialogue, but a bit interminable. The film is just about my favourite noir of them all and it manages to streamline this unruly subject matter most effectively. ...more
Michael Sullivan
The film lock stock and two smoking barrels must have been heavily influenced by this book.
Randy
Aug 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A most interesting novel highlighting the underbelly of London. Set in the months before George VI's coronation(1936), we see a different sort of life> The characters here are what would be considered lower class, in the mores of the time and their actions. But some were just hard working folks trying to survive the best way they could.

Harry Fabian is the unquestioned star of the book, a little man with delusions of grandeur that had the intelligence and drive to make something of himself. If he
...more
J2e
Aug 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes you have to wonder at American reviewers who claim the States produced a crop of hard boiled writers in the 1930s; compared to the British most of them were as hard boiled as an old dish cloth. Forget Richard Widmark's happy go lucky rogue in Jules Dassin's film adaptation of Kersh's novel. Fabian is utterly heartless, and I mean worse than that. If he has a redeeming feature it might be that he seems unaware of how others take advantage of him. The others include his girlfriend Zoe, w ...more
Zvi
Jan 25, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent for its glimpse into the world of con men, pimps, wrestlers, escorts, club-owners, businessmen and criminals in London between the wars. Soaked with colour and life, of a particularly vile kind. Some of the asides of the author are a bit over the top but the sharp characterization and dialog is unbeatable.
J.W. Allen
Feb 11, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good read and gives an awesome feel of what Soho was like in the 1930s. Class this as a buried treasure often lost in the celebrity pap that gets published a lot these days. If only Kersh were still alive today...
Kevin
Jan 26, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Dusty and misogynistic (even after the genre discount) London noir, set pre-WWII, but published just after. The jacket art has it all over the prose, which is pedestrian and repetitive.
Robert Pereno
Oct 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Marc Glendening insists I read this book or he will section me.
Michael Economy
Sep 16, 2010 marked it as interesting  ·  review of another edition
recommened by william gibson in his goodreads interview ...more
Wayne
Jan 10, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent read, entertaining plot, fast moving. Bogs down slightly in middle section, however overall well recommended.
Jack Mottram
rated it it was ok
Aug 26, 2008
Jameshemstock
rated it it was amazing
Feb 26, 2008
Gavin
rated it liked it
Jun 10, 2018
Pierre
rated it did not like it
Mar 17, 2014
Seamus May
rated it really liked it
Jan 08, 2020
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Gerald Kersh was born in Teddington-on-Thames, near London, and, like so many writers, quit school to take on a series of jobs -- salesman, baker, fish-and-chips cook, nightclub bouncer, freelance newspaper reporter and at the same time was writing his first two novels.

In 1937, his third published novel, Night and the City, hurled him into the front ranks of young British writers. Twenty novels la
...more

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