Long-listed for the 2018 Man Booker Prize
Short-listed for the 2018 Gordon Burn Prize
Short-listed for the 2018 Goldsmiths Prize
Inspired by the real-life murder of a British army soldier by religious fanatics, Guy Gunaratne’s In Our Mad and Furious City is a snapshot of the diverse, frenzied edges of modern-day London. A crackling debut from a vital new voice, it pulses with the frantic energy of the city’s homegrown grime music and is animated by the youthful rage of a dispossessed, overlooked, and often misrepresented generation.
While Selvon, Ardan, and Yusuf organize their lives around soccer, girls, and grime, Caroline and Nelson struggle to overcome pasts that haunt them. Each voice is uniquely insightful, impassioned, and unforgettable, and when stitched together, they trace a brutal and vibrant tapestry of today’s London. In a forty-eight-hour surge of extremism and violence, their lives are inexorably drawn together in the lead-up to an explosive, tragic climax.
In Our Mad and Furious City documents the stark disparities and bubbling fury coursing beneath the prosperous surface of a city uniquely on the brink. Written in the distinctive vernaculars of contemporary London, the novel challenges the ways in which we coexist now—and, more important, the ways in which we often fail to do so.
Class, racism, and Islamophobia are explored head-on in Gunaratne's Man Booker-longlisted debut. In London, specifically the towering council estates described as suburban wastelands of "Adidas and... broken windows and overflowing garbage" three streetwise youths from immigrant families are united by their love of football and American rap music. The three are Yusef, the Pakistani son of a now-deceased imam, raised in the shadow of 9/11 and struggling to care for his tormented brother, Irfan; Ardan, Irish son of Caroline, who fled a family deep with IRA violence; and Selvon, who carries with him a fury that alienates him from his Caribbean-born, politically active father. But their friendship will be tested by the riots following the (real-life) murder of a white soldier by a black Muslim, riots that will bring ethnicity, familial loyalty, and extremism to the forefront as mosques burn at the hands of the vengeful mobs. Written in the working-class dialect of its protagonists, the novel arrives at a piecemeal portrait of contemporary London that manages to be both Gunaratne's savvy rejoinder to nationalist politics and a Faulkner-esque feat of ventriloquism in its own right.