Coe, Jonathan The Rotters' Club

ISBN 13: 9780140294668

The Rotters' Club

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9780140294668: The Rotters' Club

Jonathan Coe's new novel is set in the 1970s against a distant backdrop of strikes, terrorist attacks and growing racial tension. A group of young friends inherit the editorship of their school magazine and begin to put their own distinctive spin on to events in the wider world. A zestful comedy of personal and social upheaval, The Rotters' Club captures a fateful moment in British politics - the collapse of 'Old Labour' - and imagines its impact on the topsy-turvy world of the bemused teenager: a world in which a lost pair of swimming trunks can be just as devastating as an IRA bomb.

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Review:

At a time when people are looking back on the 1970s with nostalgia, Jonathan What a Carve Up Coe's The Rotters' Club is a timely reminder of quite how ghastly that benighted decade was in Britain. Set in the "industrial" heartland of the West Midlands, it chronicles the growing pains of four Brummie schoolboys--Philip, Sean, Doug and Benjamin--who must not only come to terms with the normal pangs of adolescence but with terrible knitwear, ludicrous pop-music, nightmarish food and insidious racism, all set against the awful, surreal and tragicomic reality of a post-imperial nation.

The book suffers in its programmatic attempts to make the four boys and their families symbolise, or represent, Something Important To Do With British Life. Doug, for instance, symbolises Industrial Decline, via his dad, a shop steward at the doomed British Leyland Longbridge plant. For Sean its Sexual Liberation--at least he's the one that looks most likely to get his rocks off. And young Ben Trotter would appear to represent A Young Jonathan Coe. But if this aspect of the novel seems contrived, then the author's capricious, deft, wryly comedic and touchingly empathetic style keeps things chugging along, as he knits together the troubles and tragedies of some fairly ordinary people living through fairly extraordinary years. --Sean Thomas

From the Publisher:

WHAT THE CRITICS THOUGHT: PRAISE FOR THE ROTTERS' CLUB
'Without a shred of nostalgia, sentimentality or preaching, Coe pins down a fascinating turning point in our history. His real achievement however is that this serious political novel doesn't read like one...The novel is filled with characters whose desitnies we care about, whose welfare moves us. This is the simplest but highest calling of literature. The Rotters' Club is a book to cherish, a book to re-read, a book to buy for all your friends.' - William Sutcliffe in the Independent on Sunday

'Coe recreates the period with such loving accuracy that I frankly suspect him of planting a secret microphone in the tin Oxford Mathematical Instruments box that I carried around in my school days...the sheer intelligent good nature that suffuses his book makes it a pleasure to read.' - Peter Bradshaw in The Guardian

'This novel is a cracking evocation of the 1970s...The novel shares the musical eclecticism of the period...it works wonderfully well.' - Will Cohu in the Daily Telegraph

'You laugh, you cry and you're left wondering what happens in the end. Just like real life. You'll love this book.' - Andrea Henry in the Daily Mirror

'A tremendous romp...the social details are described by Coe with an accuracy and love that could make you doubt his sanity but never his brilliance or his sense of humour...a fluid work, where technical skill, wit and exuberant inventiveness combine in making it a joy to read.' - John de Falbe in The Literary Review

'Like all of Coe's novels, The Rotters' Club is brilliant, funny, apposite, informed and unflaggingly truth-seeking... I for one am keenly awaiting the next instalment.' - Rachel Cusk in The Evening Standard

'Like the best of his previous work, The Rotters' Club is at once uproariously entertaining and deadly serious - a comedy of manners and mores, but also a conscientious and politically charged reminder of an age quite easily forgotten, yet not far removed from our own.' - Henry Hitchings in the TLS

'The almost Dickenisan generosity of his imagination is manifest even in a minor charactes such as Paul...an unflinching picture of a troubled decade.' - Phil Baker in the Sunday Times

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