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In Our Mad and Furious City

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  2,415 ratings  ·  365 reviews
For Selvon, Ardan, and Yusuf, growing up under the towers of Stones Estate, summer means what it does anywhere: football, music, and freedom, but now, after the killing of a British soldier, riots are spreading across the city, and nowhere is safe. While the fury swirls around them, Selvon and Ardan remain focused on their own obsessions, girls, and grime. Their friend Yus ...more
Hardcover, 1st, 292 pages
Published 2018 by Tinder Press
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Average rating 3.89  · 
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Paula
Nominated for both the 2018 Booker and Goldsmiths prizes, In our Mad and Furious City is a gritty debut about two days in the lives of London’s diverse population living in a poor neighborhood called Estates. The book is narrated by a handful of immigrants from two generations. From Belfast to the Caribbean islands, different inner street contemporary voices emerge using the vernacular of their culture.

Gunaratne writes about the underbelly of the prosperous in London. With clear insight the nar
...more
Marchpane
Jul 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Exceptional. I hope this book blows up and becomes huge because really, it deserves to be.

Alternating the perspectives of three London teenagers and two of their parents, In Our Mad and Furious City dials the pressure and the momentum up, up, up with ever shorter chapters as the events of the book escalate and yes, it's furious.

Set over two days in a London housing estate under a gathering storm cloud of racial tensions, the violent struggle is both timely and timeless. Brexit and its assoc
...more
Adina
Oct 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: booker
Longlisted for Booker Prize 2018, Shortlisted for Goldsmith prize 2018

For those of us who had an elsewhere in our blood, some foreign origin, we had richer colours and ancient callings to hear. For those of us who had an elsewhere in our blood, some foreign origin, we had richer colours and ancient callings to hear.

I finished this more than two weeks ago but I struggled to write a review. Unfortunately, this was one of those books that I know it's well written and with literary and sociologic me
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Gumble's Yard
Each of us were caught in the same swirl, all held together with our own small furies in this single mad, monstrous and lunatic city


Now in quick succession winner of the Dylan Thomas Prize and Jhalak Prize.

I re-read this book following its shortlisting for the 2018 Goldsmith Prize - something which caught me a little by surprise. I have augmented my review and upgraded my ranking - on reflection I think this is the book that could have deservedly won the Booker (and definitely should have be
...more
Richard
Jan 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: current-lit-uk
The mad and furious city of the title is London. A multicultural, inner city London of soaring tower blocks, marginalised youth and cold, grey concrete. A city shaped by many decades of immigration from around the globe.
‘In Our Mad And Furious City’ by Guy Gunaratne was longlisted for the Booker prize. It’s a slice of life journey through the boxing clubs, laundrettes, fried chicken shops and mosques of the city. It examines the very different ethnic and religious communities that live in close
...more
Hugh
Jul 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize 2018
Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2018

This year's Booker longlist undoubtedly contained some big surprises. I can't defend all of them but, like Milkman, The Long Take and Everything Under, this extraordinary and vibrant picture of modern London was not on my radar before the list was announced, and I would love to see all four of them shortlisted.

The bleak setting is the Stones estate, a group of tower blocks in north London with a richly multicultural
...more
Meike
Aug 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018-mbp, uk, 2018-read
Winner of the International Dylan Thomas Prize 2019
Nominated for the Goldsmiths Prize 2018
Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2018

This book is going to win the Booker (update: No it didn't, which of course only means that the judges were wrong! :-)). Set in London, the story discusses identity, a topic that is central for so many current political issues, from Brexit to the divided States of America, to globalization, religous conflicts, you name it. On top of that, the language is vivid and fre
...more
Whispering Stories
Jun 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Book Reviewed by Clive on www.whisperingstories.com

My initial reactions to this book were “what do these words mean” and “what is going on”? The first question was because the narrative is written from the perspective of half a dozen very different characters of which four are teenagers from inner London, whose everyday language is very much of the street. During the early chapters I found www.urbandictionary.com very handy but as the book progressed I became more comfortable with the terms.

My s
...more
Paul Bryant
Sep 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: novels
This London working class panorama tries so hard but is eventually brought down by its mad and furious ambition. It’s like a box of fireworks that someone has accidentally set alight, everything going off at once, too much for the eye to take in.

As well as being stuffed full of CONTEMPORARY ISSUES ripped out of tomorrow’s headlines it’s all very neat, like our author had a scheme and he stuck to it.


So it's a neat exploding box of fireworks. Looks like I'll never figure out this metaphor thing.
...more
Nat K
Aug 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in reading an intelligent book reflecting current society

*** Long listed for The Man Booker Prize 2018 ***

”The blood was not what shocked us. For us it was his face like a mirror, reflecting our own confused and frightened hearts.”

5**** plus.

Stark. Gritty. Raw.

I read this book late into the night. The power of the writing, the characters, the themes, totally captured my attention. It is emotive and unforgiving.

Set in a housing estate in inner city London, each chapter is told from the pov* of one of the five main characters. We live inside their
...more
ReadAlongWithSue
Aug 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: publishers-sent

I was asked if I would like to read this at some point for my thoughts.
I’ve finally got to it. The covers been putting me off, the writing is urban street dialogue and I’ve needed to Google some of the words and contents which slowed me down, irritated me and frustrated me even more, but, it needs to stay this way for impact. So I was determined to press on.

The overall of this is a shocking insight.
It’s not an enjoyable read it’s a factual one, us the reader just needs to accept the “happenings
...more
Trudie
Aug 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Was an ugliness in this Britain, I feel it then. But I had not learn it yet. I had learn to drink a bitter, smoke a weed, learn to work and play lairy, but not that. To see it there writ across the brick, it have me numb and leave me feeling a sorta deep-down shame. Sorta shame the Lord give you when you love a wretched thing. Was how it feel like when I realise that this Britain did not love me back, no matter how much I feel for it.

This then is not the London of ease and merriment, of summer
...more
Ace
Aug 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This. This is what the Booker is about. Review soon.
Neil
Jul 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
UPDATE:

Now re-read after its (surprise, to me) inclusion on the Goldsmith's shortlist. I'm glad it was put on this shortlist, though, as I may not have re-read it otherwise and it benefits from a second reading. I found myself thinking a lot more as I read it this time about the reasons people leave and the reasons people stay. We have an older generation in the book (Nelson and Caroline) who left their home countries and settled in London. And we have a younger generation (Selvon, Ardan and Yus
...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
"This country lack the joy of island life. And it make we who come here drab and forgetful of natural feeling. We come to the cold country and shed them smiles and grit them teeth. Feeling as if the bad air of the place, the hostile nerve give us cause to arch we backs, haunted in later life as memories come."
This may be one of the surprises for me as a reader from the Man Booker Prize longlist (did not make the shortlist) in the sense that I hadn't heard of the book or author prior to the list
...more
Tim
Jul 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: man-booker-2018
Guy Gunaratne's debut novel unfolds over the course of 48 hours on a north London housing estate describing moments of peace and chaos in a city boiling with social tensions. There we follow three young men – Selvon, Ardan, and Yusuf – navigate the fragile, deprived communities of suburban London. The backdrop to the novel seems very close indeed to real London events – the murder of an off-duty soldier by a black man, riots, progessing radicalisation of Muslim youths.
Alongside the three youngst
...more
But_i_thought_
I’m clearly in the minority here, because this book has been described as “blistering” and “provocative” all over Goodreads, lauded for its polyphonic voices and heartrending narrative, but it just didn’t work for me. Perhaps I have consumed too many stories like these in the past, for I found the overall plot tired and predictable.

Set in a council estate in present day London, the novel mainly follows three young men with “elsewhere in their blood” – children of Irish, Caribbean and Pakistani
...more
Lee
Aug 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Would be a worthy winner. Not perfect and occasionally trades depth for propulsiveness but superb overall.
Jonathan Pool
In Our Mad And Furious City describes events from the 1950s through to the present day. There’s a deliberate blurring of exact chronology and this serves to emphasise the continuum that represents evolving London. Gunaratne introduces, inter alia, Oswald Moseley, the Muhajiroun, Lee Rigby, and the IRA, Equally, at the personal level, Football, and Grime music play their parts in the narrative.  “I was at peace among the football lot” (65)Against a backdrop of violence, of racial and religious ha ...more
Roman Clodia
Aug 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
*There are plot spoilers throughout so don't read further unless you're ok with that*


It's somewhat disappointing to see how many press reviews have dubbed this as being about 'the nuance of black experience on the streets of London' because while race is certainly a theme, it seems to me that this is more about class and a certain type of young, urban masculinity. Indeed, Gunaratne seems to have gone out of his way to avoid a trio of 'black' protagonists by including the voice of Ardan, second g
...more
ns510
Jul 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this! An urgent, exciting tale of contemporary London, and those who live on its margins. I would love to see it on the Booker longlist this year! (update 24/7/18: it has been longlisted for the 2018 Man Booker Prize!)

Isn’t it strange to think of how one city has many faces, and people can go their whole lives knowing a certain version of the city they live in, never knowing what another’s experience might be like.


”See London. This city taints it’s young. If you were from here you’d know,
...more
Rachel
In Our Mad and Furious City is a frenetic and imperfect but unforgettable feat from debut writer Guy Gunaratne. Set in London over the course of two days, it tells the story of three boys and two of their parents, against the backdrop of an incipient riot caused by a local boy killing a British soldier. Yusuf, Selvon, and Ardan are three friends who live in or around a Neasden housing estate, trying to make a future for themselves in a city fraught with violence and extremism.

This book is a defi
...more
Dianne
4.5....May come back and give this a 5. Review to come!
David
Sep 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
"For I see all them who I called blood, see them lost to it, lost to a city what hate them."

What an impressive debut novel and what a powerful treatment we have here of the identity crises faced by second-generation immigrants in Britain. Each of the five main characters finds themself outside both their native and adopted cultures; yearning for understanding and inclusion but finding only invisibility, dismissal, exploitation, or violence. They occupy a very real purgatory, failing to recognize
...more
Dannii Elle
Actual rating 4.5/5 stars.

“doing anything for love in a city that deny it is a rebellion.”

90's London. Grit, grime, and girls. Or at least that's all life contains for Selvon, Ardan, and Yusuf, growing up in the shadows of the Stones Estate. But all that is soon to change when a British soldier is brutally murdered and the white citizens outside of the estate bring their blame and their racism to rest at their doorsteps.

The multitude of perspectives each narrate their portion of events as well a
...more
Anita Pomerantz
Jan 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Set in London, this book follows five characters: Three friends (Yusuf, Selvon, and Ardan) and two of their parents (Caroline and Nelson). Each of them relates the tale in the first person with alternating chapters. The friends, each from different backgrounds, are bonding by football (soccer to us U.S. folks) and music. Each is facing serious familial challenges that further bind them together. An incident where an Islamic young man murders a soldier has set off a spate of escalating riots and ...more
Sarah
Absolutely brilliant. I don't think any review I write will be able to do this justice, but this has to be one of the best books I've read this year.
Doug
Sep 06, 2018 rated it liked it
2.5, rounded up. There wasn't anything terribly BAD about this book, especially for a first effort, but the whole thing just left me kind of 'meh' - at least it was a quick and easy read. Having zero interest in football, boxing or rap/grime music, which are the major preoccupations of the three main protagonists, nor having any knowledge/affinity for the locale, left me rather adrift and uninvolved throughout most of it.

The book went more or less exactly where I expected it to go, and even the
...more
Possibly in Michigan, London
Apr 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
First, it’s set in London, a London that is actually recognisable - chicken shops, kids on the bus, local football grounds, etc. Secondly, it’s written in vernacular, idiom, which is literary catnip for me. So yeah, I was here for it.

I think Gunaratne does an amazing job of pacing the stories of the five narrators, giving them individual chapters, expertly weaving between past and present in the individual sections, while still creating a compelling overall arc. That’s some achievement.

Obvious
...more
Paul Fulcher
So here it all is, this London. A place that you can love, make rhymes out of pyres and a romance of the colours, talk gladly of the changes and the flux and the rise and the fall without feeling its storm rain on your skin and its bone-scarring winds, a city that won’t love you back unless you become insoluble to the fury, the madness of bound and unbound peoples and the immovables of the place. The joy.

Guy Gunaratne's debut novel, In Our Mad and Furious City, has been longlisted for the 2018 M
...more
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Guy Gunaratne was born in London in 1984. His debut novel, In Our Mad and Furious City, was long-listed for the 2018 Man Booker Prize, and short-listed for the 2018 Gordon Burn Prize, as well as the 2018 Goldsmiths Prize.
As had been said of him, "A lot of people write about London, but nobody writes about London the way Guy Gunaratne writes about London."

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