'COE IS AMONG THE HANDFUL OF NOVELISTS WHO CAN TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT THE TEMPER OF OUR TIMES' OBSERVER
'It was tempting to think, at times like this, that some bizarre hysteria had gripped the British people'
Beginning eight years ago on the outskirts of Birmingham, where car factories have been replaced by Poundland, and London, where frenzied riots give way to Olympic fever, Middle England follows a brilliantly vivid cast of characters through a time of immense change.
There are newlyweds Ian and Sophie, who disagree about the future of the country and, possibly, the future of their relationship; Doug, the political commentator who writes impassioned columns about austerity from his Chelsea townhouse, and his radical teenage daughter who will stop at nothing in her quest for social justice; Benjamin Trotter, who embarks on an apparently doomed new career in middle age, and his father Colin, whose last wish is to vote in the European referendum. And within all these lives is the story of modern England: a story of nostalgia and delusion; of bewilderment and barely-suppressed rage.
Following in the footsteps of The Rotters' Club and The Closed Circle, Jonathan Coe's new novel is the novel for our strange new times.
'Probably the best English novelist of his generation' Nick Hornby
'You can't stop reading....I was haunted for days' Independent on 'Number 11'
The hilarious 1980s political satire by Jonathan Coe, published as a Penguin Essential for the first time.
It is the 1980s and the Winshaw family are getting richer and crueller by the year:
Newspaper-columnist Hilary gets thousands for telling it like it isn't; Henry's turning hospitals into car parks; Roddy's selling art in return for sex; down on the farm Dorothy's squeezing every last pound from her livestock; Thomas is making a killing on the stock exchange; and Mark is selling arms to dictators.
But once their hapless biographer Michael Owen starts investigating the family's trail of greed, corruption and immoral doings, the time growing ripe for the Winshaws to receive their comeuppance. . .
This wickedly funny take on life under the Thatcher government was the winner of the 1995 John Llewellyn Rhys Prize
'A sustained feat of humour, suspense and polemic, full of twists and ironies' Hilary Mantel, Sunday Times
'A riveting social satire on the chattering and all-powerful upper classes' Time Out
'Big, hilarious, intricate, furious, moving' Guardian
This is a novel about the hundreds of tiny connections between the public and private worlds and how they affect us all.
It's about the legacy of war and the end of innocence.
It's about how comedy and politics are battling it out and comedy might have won.
It's about how 140 characters can make fools of us all.
It's about living in a city where bankers need cinemas in their basements and others need food banks down the street.
It is Jonathan Coe doing what he does best - showing us how we live now.
'Coe is among the handful of novelists who can tell us something about the temper of our times' Observer
Expo 58 by Jonathan Coe - Spies, girls and an Englishman abroad. Trust no one.
London, 1958: unassuming civil servant Thomas Foley is plucked from his desk job and sent on a six-month trip to Brussels. His task: to keep an eye on The Britannia, a brand new pub which will form the heart of the British presence at Expo 58 - the biggest World's Fair of the century.
As soon as he arrives, Thomas is equally bewitched by the surreal, gigantic Atomium, which stands at the heart of this brave new world, and by Anneke, a lovely Flemish hostess. But Thomas's new-found sense of freedom comes at a price: two British spies are following him.
For fans of Jonathan Coe's classic comic bestsellers What a Carve Up! and The Rotters' Club, this hilarious new novel, which is set in the Mad Men period of the mid 50s, will also be loved by readers of Nick Hornby, William Boyd and Ian McEwan.
'Clever and funny, enthralling and moving. Wonderful!' Daily Mail
'Rich and splendidly comic' Independent
The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim is Jonathan Coe's latest heart-breaking and hilarious novel
Maxwell Sim could be any of us. He could be you.
He's about to have a mid-life crisis (though eh doesn't know it yet). He'll be found in his car in the north of Scotland, half-naked and alone, suffering hypothermia, with a couple of empty whisky bottles and a boot full of toothbrushes.
It's a far cry from a restaurant in Sydney, where his story starts.
But then Maxwell Sim has, unknowingly, got a long way to go. If he knew now about his lonely journey to the Shetland Isles, or the truth about his father and the folded photograph, or the mystery of Poppy and her peculiar job, or even about Emma's lovely, fading voice, then perhaps he's stay where he was - hiding from destiny.
But Max knows none of it. And nor do you - at least not yet. . .
Equal parts funny and moving, The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim will be cherished by readers everywhere, from fans of David Nicholls to Will Self.
'Witty, unexpected and curiously unsettling. Coe carries it off with empathy, comedy and a ventriloquist's ear for idiom' Literary Review
'Clever, engaging, spring-loaded with mysteries and surprises' Time Out
'Masterly, highly engaging. Coe's eye for the details of contemporary life remains as sharp as ever' Daily Mail
The Rotters' Club - Jonathan Coe's iconic 1970s coming-of-age novel
Winner of the Everyman Wodehouse prize, The Rotters' Club follows Benjamin Trotter - bestselling author Jonathan Coe's most iconic character - through the hilarious and, at times, touching trials and tribulations of growing up in 1970s Britain.
Unforgettably funny and painfully honest, Jonathan Coe's tale of Benjamin Trotter and his friends' coming of age during the 1970s is a heartfelt celebration of the joys and agonies of growing up.
Featuring, among other things, IRA bombs, prog rock, punk rock, bad poetry, first love, love on the side. Prefects, detention, a few bottles of Blue Nun, lots of brown wallpaper, industrial strife, and divine intervention in the form of a pair of swimming trunks.
Set against the backdrop of the decade's class struggles, tragic and riotous by turns, packed with thwarted romance and furtive sex, The Rotters' Club will be enjoyed by readers of Nick Hornby and William Boyd and anyone who ever experienced adolescence the hard way.
'One of those sweeping, ambitious yet hugely readable, moving and richly comic novels that you find all too rarely in English fiction...a masterpiece' Daily Telegraph
'Very funny...a compulsive and gripping read. Coe had achieved that rare feat: a novel stuffed with characters you really care for' The Times
'A book to cherish, a book to reread, a book to buy for all your friends' Independent on Sunday
Jonathan Coe's novels are filled with biting political satire, moving and astute observations of life and hilarious set pieces that have made him one of the most popular writers of his generation. His other titles, The Closed Circle (sequel to The Rotters' Club), The Accidental Woman, The Dwarves of Death, The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim, The House of Sleep (winner of the 1998 Prix Médicis Étranger), A Touch of Love, What a Carve Up! (winner of the 1995 John Llewellyn Rhys Prize) and The Rain Before it Falls, are all available in Penguin paperback.
The Closed Circle is Jonathan Coe's hilarious sequel to The Rotters' Club
It's the end of the century and Benjamin Trotter and friends are all grown up. Life is a ceaseless whirl of jobs, marriages, kids - and self-inflicted angst. Despite the shiny optimism of Blair's Britain, youthful hopes and dreams feel betrayed. Is the Government (and by extension Benjamin's MP brother Paul) to blame? Or are the 'rotters' themselves - only passingly faithful to their dreams - really at fault?
The Closed Circle - sequel to The Rotters' Club - depicts a group of former school friends as older, wiser and disillusioned in Blair's Britain at the turn of the millennium. It proves that the present can never truly be disentangled from the past.
'Terrific. An incisive portrait of Britain at the turn of the century' Spectator
'Coe's finest achievement since What a Carve up!' Time Out
'Popular fiction at its best' Daily Mail
Sarah is a narcoleptic who has dreams so vivid she mistakes them for real events; Robert has had his life changed for ever by the misunderstandings arising from her condition; Terry, the insomniac, spends his wakeful nights fuelling his obsession with movies; and the increasingly unstable Dr Gregory Dudden sees sleep as a life-shortening disease which must be eradicated .
A group of students sharing a house. They fall in and out of love, they drift apart. Yet a decade later they are drawn back together by a series of coincidences involving their obsession with sleep - and each other ...
'What I want you to have, Imogen, above all, is a sense of your own history; a sense of where you come from, and of the forces that made you.'
Rosamund lies dying in her remote Shropshire home. But before she does so, she has one last task: to put on tape not just her own story but the story of the young blind girl, her cousin's granddaughter, who turned up mysteriously at her party all those years ago. This is a story of generations, of the relationships within a family - and of what goes to make a child.
For Maria, nothing is certain. Her life is a chain of accidents. Friendship passes her by, and she's unimpressed by the devoted Ronny and his endless propsals of marriage. Maria lives in a world of her own - yet not of her own making. Stumbling through university, work, marriage and motherhood, she finds it hard to see what all the fuss is about.
Will she ever be able to control the direction of her life? Or will it end, as it began, by accident? What does chance have in store for the accidental woman?
Music, murder ... and Madeleine. William has a lot on his mind. Firstly there's The Alaska Factory, the band he plays in. They're no good and they make his songs sound about as groovy as an unpressed record.
Secondly, there's Madeleine, his high-maintenance girlfriend whose idea of a night of passion is an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical followed by a doorstep peck on the cheek. Maybe they're not soulmates after all?
Lastly, there's the bizarre murder he's just witnessed. A man lies bludgeoned to death at his feet and, unfortunately for William, there aren't too many other suspects standing nearby...
Robin, a postgrad student in Coventry, has spent four and a half years not writing his thesis. Now it languishes in a drawer, and Robin hides in his room, increasingly frightened by a world he doesn't understand. His friends have failed him and romance eludes him. His only outlet is his short stories, scribbled in notebooks and expressing his secret obsessions and frustrations.
Then, when an unfortunate and embarassing incident in a public park lands him in serious trouble, Robin's life finally spirals out of control . . .
Marginal Notes, Doubtful Statements by Jonathan Coe - an extraordinary non-fiction collection from the author of EXPO 58
From celebrating the greatness of Gulliver's Travels to tracing the impact of Margaret Thatcher's death, from interviewing Brian Eno to finding Hitchcockian elements in a Disney film, Marginal Notes, Doubtful Statements is a hugely funny, moving and fascinating 20-year journey through the world of books, music, film, politics and memory from one of Britain's most acclaimed novelists and cultural thinkers.
This will be loved by fans of What A Carve Up and The Rotters' Club, as well as readers of Nick Hornby, David Foster Wallace and Zadie Smith's Changing My Mind.
'Clever and funny, enthralling and moving, this is, for my money, Coe's best novel since What A Carve-Up! Wonderful' Daily Mail on Expo 58
'A rich and splendidly comic confection' Independent on EXPO 58
Jonathan Coe is the author of ten novels, the latest Expo 58 (2013). His previous nine novels are all published by Penguin and include the acclaimed bestsellers What a Carve Up!, The House of Sleep and The Rotters' Club.
Jonathan Coe's Pentatonic is a daring and original story about family and memory inspired by music.
When a family celebrates the prize-giving day at their daughter's secondary school, thoughts turn to their own childhoods. The father remembers his living room piano recital, recorded on a well-worn cassette tape. The mother remembers her own father's war tragedy. As the father searches for the physical reminder of his past and the mother longs to forget her own, they confront the breakdown of their marriage in the present.
In Pentatonic, Jonathan Coe movingly explores the memories that unite us and the experiences that drive us apart. The story is simultaneously available as a digital download with the piece of music which originally inspired the story.
Praise for Jonathan Coe:
'Probably the best English novelist of his generation' Nick Hornby
'Coe has huge powers of observation and enormous literary panache' Sunday Times
'Jonathan Coe's a fine writer who seems to try something new with every book' David Nicholls
Jonathan Coe was born in Birmingham in 1961. He is the author of eight bestselling novels including What a Carve Up! and The Rotters' Club, and a biography of the novelist B. S. Johnson, Like a Fiery Elephant, which won the 2005 Samuel Johnson Prize for best non-fiction book of the year.
'Probably the best English novelist of his generation' Nick Hornby
Jonathan Coe's widely acclaimed 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 onto 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.
'One of those sweeping, ambitious yet hugely readable, moving, richly comic novels that you find all too rarely in English fiction ... a masterpiece' Daily Telegraph
Downloadable, abridged audiobook edition read by Jeff Rawle.
The downloadable audiobook edition of Jonathan's Coe satirical masterpiece, What a Carve Up!
A brilliant noir farce, a dystopian vision of Britain, a family history and the story of an obsession. Michael is a lonely, rather pathetic writer, obsessed by the film, 'What A Carve Up!' in which a mad knifeman cuts his way through the inhabitants of a decrepit stately pile as the thunder rages. Inexplicably he is commissioned to write the family history of the Winshaws, an upper class Yorkshire clan whose members have a finger in every establishment pie, from arms dealing to art dealing, from politics to banking to the popular press and factory farming. During his researches Michael realises that the Winshaws have cast a blight on his life, as they have on Britain. His confidence, his sexual and personal identity begin to reform. In a climax set in the Winshaw's family seat the novel turns into the film, 'What A Carve Up!' as a murderous maniac stalks the family and Michael discovers the significance of Shirley Eaton's lingerie.
'Everything a novel ought to be: courageous, challenging, funny, sad - and peopled with a fine troupe of characters' The Times
Read by Alex Jennings.
Jonathan Coe's previous novel, The Rotters' Club, was a novel of innocence: a nostalgic, humorous evocation of adolescent life in 1970s Britain. The Closed Circle is its mirror image: a novel of experience. On Millennium night, with Blair presiding over a superficially cool, sexed-up new version of the country, Benjamin Trotter finds himself watching the celebrations on his parents' TV in the same Birmingham house in which he grew up. Watching, in fact, his younger brother, Paul, now a bright young New Labour MP who has bought wholeheartedly into the Blairite dream. Neither of them can know that their lives are about to implode. Set against the backdrop of Britain's racial and social tensions and the country's increasingly compromised role in America's 'war against terrorism', The Closed Circle shuttles between London and Birmingham, taking in fat cats, media advisers and political protestors. As its characters struggle to make sense of the perennial problems of love, vocation and family in a changing world, it offers a bitter-sweet conclusion to the unfinished business of The Rotters' Club.
'Wonderful, hilarious ... so appealing that the last cruel thing about it is the ending' Daily Telegraph
Downloadable abridged audiobook edition read by Jeff Rawle.
Satirist Jonathan Coe is probably best known for his book What a Carve Up! His witty takedown of the 1980s Conservative government won him praise from critics and fans alike.
Jonathan Coe is the author of twelve novels, all published by Penguin, which include the highly acclaimed bestsellers What a Carve Up!, The House of Sleep,The Rotters' Club and Number 11.