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In Our Mad and Furious City
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Booker Prize for Fiction > 2018 Booker Longlist: In Our Mad and Furious City

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message 1: by Trevor (new)

Trevor (mookse) | 1842 comments Mod
In Our Mad and Furious City, by Guy Gunaratne


Tommi | 514 comments This is also shortlisted for the Gordon Burn Prize at the moment: http://gordonburnprize.com/shortlist/...

Quite an entrance to the literary scene.


message 3: by Val (new) - rated it 4 stars

Val | 1016 comments This is one I had heard of, unlike most of the others on the list.


Neil | 1978 comments I am halfway through. Speaking as a Brit, this is incredibly uncomfortable to read. But also compulsive. I am scared by it but find it hard to put down.


message 5: by Sam (new)

Sam | 1713 comments Neil wrote: "I am halfway through. Speaking as a Brit, this is incredibly uncomfortable to read. But also compulsive. I am scared by it but find it hard to put down."

How difficult are you finding the slang?


Alysson Oliveira | 85 comments I've just received my copy. It will be my next reading.


message 7: by Neil (last edited Jul 25, 2018 12:41PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Neil | 1978 comments The slang is fine if English is your first language. Any words you don’t recognise can be inferred from the context. Trickier if English is not your mother tongue, I would think. Also, one character has a voice with “bad English”, by which I mean he uses the wrong tense of verbs and the wrong pronouns etc. (because English is not his first language) - I don’t know how easy that is to read if it is not your mother tongue - I’d like to hear from someone who reads it. It might be the case that some of it is easier if it is not your first language!


Alysson Oliveira | 85 comments Neil wrote: "The slang is fine if English is your first language. Any words you don’t recognise can be inferred from the context. Trickier if English is not your mother tongue, I would think. Also, one characte..."
I'll let you know when I start reading it.


Lagullande | 42 comments Sam wrote: "How difficult are you finding the slang?"

I have used 3 strategies so far: 1. ask my teenager, 2. read it out loud, 3. urban dictionary.com.

Neil wrote: "I am halfway through. Speaking as a Brit, this is incredibly uncomfortable to read. But also compulsive. I am scared by it but find it hard to put down. "

Agreed. I wasn't expecting to like this (although "like" is probably not the right word), but I've just rattled through the first 50 pages and already feel engaged with the characters.


message 11: by Sam (last edited Jul 25, 2018 01:46PM) (new)

Sam | 1713 comments Thanks to you to all three answerers. I may seek the audio for this. I enjoy hearing novels with heavy slang voiced.


Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 6108 comments Wonderful link Neil. From your and Tim’s assessment, and that of Meike and her friends in picking it for their longlist predictions and putting it together with this feel good story I can see this having a strong shortlist chance.


message 13: by Neil (new) - rated it 4 stars

Neil | 1978 comments I cannot see this missing out on my personal short list. I am even contemplating putting it above Richard Powers. Can you believe that?!?!


Alysson Oliveira | 85 comments I've just started. I read 3 pages, and i was totally absorbed by this. Such a strong voice.


Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 6108 comments Ok you have persuaded me. I don’t have time to get this pre holiday so I will order a Kindle version.


message 16: by Neil (new) - rated it 4 stars

Neil | 1978 comments Just finished. 5 stars from me. I am keen to hear from

1. A Londoner
2. A non-Brit

(I am a Brit who lives in the countryside and I think those two views will be very interesting to read). I found it completely compelling.


message 17: by Hugh (new) - rated it 5 stars

Hugh (bodachliath) | 3368 comments Mod
Neil wrote: "Just finished. 5 stars from me. I am keen to hear from

1. A Londoner
2. A non-Brit

(I am a Brit who lives in the countryside and I think those two views will be very interesting to read). I found..."

Choices, choices - if I read this sooner Powers will have to wait longer. Since I am also a provincial Brit I won't feel too guilty for leaving it a little longer...


Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 6108 comments I have just started but I am another Brit non Londoner. I do work in London 3 weeks out of four, but it’s a very different London to the one in this book, although I think my Arsenal watching habits will make me relate to it more.

One of the characters reminds me of Troopz

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=3Gckppn...


message 19: by Tim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tim | 65 comments I enjoyed this a lot! I found it quite easy to find my way into the prose, although my affinity for Grime and the Dub Poetry of Linton Kwesi Johnson probably do help with that.

I thought the prose was very strong, written in the languages of “those with elsewhere in their blood”, as Gunaratne puts it. It reminded me somewhat of Junot Diaz's style of prose. The language explodes from the page and stylistically makes Marlon James' A Brief History of Seven Killings' – a Man Booker Prize winner no less – prose look one dimensional. Especially the passages following Ardan, a youth inspired and formed by the fast rhyming bars of Grime, are in my opinion immaculate.


message 20: by Paul (new) - rated it 3 stars

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 9665 comments Interested why you'd be keen to hear from a Londoner?

I suspect that there is London and London and many Londoners would have as little experience of the world he describes as a non Londoner.

Your review quotes the book "Families hauling bare ASDA shopping bags past Chinese shops and Polish newsagents." and adds "sounds like London to me!"

There is the other London of parents in their Q7 or Cayenne picking up food from the gourmet grocer after dropping the kids off at private school.


message 21: by Neil (last edited Jul 26, 2018 08:32AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Neil | 1978 comments Yes - I agree “there is London and London”. What I am interested to know is whether Londoners recognise the London in this book or whether only Londoners from a very specific background recognise it. And I don't mean "recognise" in the sense that it is their London, but more that they can see the London written about here exists, even if they are not part of it.


message 22: by Neil (new) - rated it 4 stars

Neil | 1978 comments I'm having that thing where you write a word too many times and it starts to look wrong. And it's the capital city of my country!


message 23: by Paul (new) - rated it 3 stars

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 9665 comments From what I have read of the book I only recognise it in the same way a non-Londoner would i.e. from the media and occassional forays.


message 24: by Paul (new) - rated it 3 stars

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 9665 comments I am having that thing when you type a reply to a post and then find the post has been edited! So my reply was to the question you are saying you didn't ask :-) On the deeper question that is harder to say, in a way I recognise it exists in a theoretical sense.


message 25: by Neil (new) - rated it 4 stars

Neil | 1978 comments That’s what I suspected.


message 26: by Neil (new) - rated it 4 stars

Neil | 1978 comments I am asking because I assume it does exist but a lot of people, even those who live in the same city, do not experience it.


Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 6108 comments I love the fact this book has a Grime based argument for why the Booker should be for British books and not American ones.


message 28: by Neil (new) - rated it 4 stars

Neil | 1978 comments Ah - I know which bit you have just read!


Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 6108 comments Yes will save it for others to find though.

Actually I think it’s a serious comment on this book and this longlist.

Much as I loved There There and Lincoln in The Bardo I do want to be challenged by books that speak directly to the problems in my own society or remind me of past fissures in that society. So I do think the judges have to be commended for including this and Milkman.


message 30: by Neil (new) - rated it 4 stars

Neil | 1978 comments I haven't read Milkman yet, but I agree with what you are saying. For me, the Booker is at its best when it points me towards books like this one.

"Proper tune, understated."


Alysson Oliveira | 85 comments I read about 100 pages today, and I'm enjoying the book a lot. Beautifully written, ennet? So far, I haven't had any big trouble with the language, and I've learned a lot of new slangs.


MisterHobgoblin Tommi wrote: "This is also shortlisted for the Gordon Burn Prize at the moment"

It clearly has the Krypton Factor


Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 6108 comments My review (including recommended playlist which I listened to when reading the book and while writing my comments is)

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

For now I am at 4* (more of a 4.5* rounded down) - I think a 5 person point of view book has to have all 5 strong to get 5* and one I felt was weak (and rather overshadowed by Milkman). I think its a wonderful debut novel but not without faults and inconsistencies (as you would expect from a first novel).

Looking forward to someone giving this 1* so we can arrange a battle - and my money is on Neil and Tim to merk it.


Alysson Oliveira | 85 comments Gumble's Yard wrote: "My review (including recommended playlist which I listened to when reading the book and while writing my comments is)

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

For now I am at 4* (more of ..."

I was thinking, while reading today, that this book really needed a playlist. Thanks! :)


Roland Freisitzer (rolandf) | 68 comments I just finished this one and it is, at least for now (haven't read Johnson, Mackintosh, Drnaso, Rooney, Robertson and Edugyan) my favourite of this longlist. Very fresh and dynamic writing, which, at least to me as a non-native-speaker, feels very convincing on all lines. The slang wasn't really a problem for me, as Gunaratne writes very musically, all of this writing has a clearly rhythmical drive to it and once you're in, you're in. Actually, I had to slow down my reading (from exited rushing to careful slowness) to avoid missing things and to keep the end away a bit longer. (I have to admit that the only phrase I had to look up was "kiss my teeth" - which came quite often, to say the least)


Robert | 2106 comments Received this yesterday - very excited, the language is blistering


message 37: by Paul (new) - rated it 3 stars

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 9665 comments Looks like the author is appearing in person at the Ikea Wembley thing


Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 6108 comments Makes sense as the Wembley arches feature in the book as more importantly does the narrowness of Highbury.


message 39: by Val (new) - rated it 4 stars

Val | 1016 comments With regard to the response by Londoners query:
I used to live in North London, although not in Neasden and too long ago to relate to this generation of residents. Most of my London relatives, both now and then, support Spurs.
I can follow the slang, from context and from daughters' friends using it, but did check one phrase I was not sure about with my younger daughter.

With regard to the book:
I have only read part one, Mongrel, and am loving it so far. The language manages to be both edgy and to flow beautifully.


Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 6108 comments So sorry to hear about your relatives Val.


message 41: by Val (last edited Aug 01, 2018 01:30AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Val | 1016 comments Somebody has to support other teams Gumble.


message 42: by Paul (new) - rated it 3 stars

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 9665 comments Ah so the book is set in North London. Explains why it doesn't sound like any London I know. Strictly a south of the river man myself (which is of course where Arsenal belong as well).


Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 6108 comments There is so much misleading in that statement it’s hard to know where to begin!!!!!


message 44: by Paul (new) - rated it 3 stars

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 9665 comments I once refused to go to a UBS Christmas party because it was north of Liverpool Street, which is where London ends.

And Arsenal are of course the original Franchise who stole a club from Woolwich and bribed their way into a top division place. MK Dons of the 19th Century.


Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 6108 comments Yes other than that you were born North of London, spent most of your life supporting Arsenal and most of your working life North of the river.


message 46: by Paul (new) - rated it 3 stars

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 9665 comments Past errors can be atoned for. Always within easy reach of the river (and now I can see it from the window). And North of London <> North London.


Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 6108 comments True I guess as the Brexit vote and general election proved.


Possibly in Michigan, London (possiblyinmichigan) | 47 comments I'm a Londoner (east) via Essex and don't know anyone like the characters, but I certainly recognised the language and the setting. Hard to overstate how refreshing it is to see regular London represented (not the filmic version of London with its South Bank and red buses). I think it would feel like a London novel to most people, with its use of grime, which originates from the city.

While I don't think all the sections were equally strong, it was brilliantly structured. Selvon's dad's section was the strongest, in my opinion. Its politics were a bit conservative for my tastes, but it's so humane and empathic that it doesn't matter too much.

Not sure whether it will make the shortlist, given that the past few years have seen polyphonic winners (the Saunders and James' novels) - could go either way?


Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 6108 comments Thanks Dorothea, very interesting comments.


message 50: by Ctb (new) - added it

Ctb | 197 comments About 30% through this one using GY's (?) self-sufficient method of how much is in this hand and how much is in that hand.

Not appreciating IOMaFC as others have.

The voices are indistinct. Pick any random page and try to guess who's speaking. Except for the factual differences - he's an athlete, he writes lyrics, he's Pakistani, she's Irish, he's in a wheelchair - I can't tell. Not much character development. Everyone is angry.

And, each character is relating his/her past in a crude, unnatural method: and that's when I moved to that house and that's when my da died and that's the day we went to the arcade.... if I'm reading their thoughts, that's stilted. Maybe some of them are speaking to someone off-stage. I don't know.

For all the adjectives - mad furious, racist, coarse, snarling, evil, etc. - this book feels like a still life.

Don't dislike this novel, but not falling in love.


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