In Our Mad and Furious City

Guy Gunaratne. MCD, $16 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-0-374-17577-1
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. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 10/29/2018
Release date: 12/11/2018
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