…by Sebastian Faulks.
The setting is London. The year is 2007. A week before Christmas. And in this one week, we follow the lives of seven people and others connected to them. A hedge fun manager, John Veals who is trying to make the biggest trade in his career but in the process continues to ignore his family. A Polish footballer, Spike Borowski recently drafted to play with one of the English clubs in the Premier League. A young barrister, Gabriel Northwood, with little work and money and too much time on his hands. A student, Hassan Al-Rashid who is led astray by fanatical Muslims to believe that America and the west are evil and there is only one way to teach them a lesson. A pretentious book-reviewer, R. Tranter, who seems to think too much of himself. A school, Finn Veals, addicted to skunk (genetically modified pot) and reality television. And a train driver, Jenni Fortune, who enjoys her job with the solitude it brings and yet, the lives it connects. In these seven days, their lives intertwine in different ways.
This novel is a look at urban life in contemporary London. However, it could be about urban life anywhere in the Western world. It takes a satirical view at contemporary society and makes the reader think and ask a lot of questions. The extent to which reality tv can go, the manner in which we get sucked into virtual reality than living life, the things people will do to get money…no matter how immoral, and most importantly, the disconnection from our fellow human beings. And I think that’s what struck me most about the book — the disconnection. A city like London is crowded. And yet, people hardly interact face to face. Everyone is too busy doing their own thing. Families are disconnected due to each person leading their own life. And somehow, everyone is alone despite being around people.
I read Faulks’ book as part of my book club reading for this month and I wasn’t disappointed. While I felt like I wanted more, I think he wanted to give the reader a snippet into a week in the lives of these people. And then, we are left to our own devices to imagine their lives. It is an interesting concept to have all these different characters and somehow intertwine their stories in a very coherent manner. I would recommend this book if you are looking to read about contemporary society and possibly where we are headed. I give it a rating of 3.
Until next time,