In Our Mad and Furious City

Length: 6 hrs and 45 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (6 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2018 

In Our Mad and Furious City is an unforgettable portrait of 48 hours in the life of a housing estate, it was one of the most talked-about debuts of 2018 and will be devoured by fans of This is England or The Bricks That Built the Houses

For Selvon, Ardan and Yusuf, growing up under the towers of Stones Estate, summer means what it does anywhere: football, music, freedom. But now, after the killing of a British soldier, riots are spreading across the city, and nowhere is safe. 

While the fury swirls around them, Selvon and Ardan remain focused on their own obsessions: girls and grime. Their friend Yusuf is caught up in a different tide, a wave of radicalism surging through his local mosque, threatening to carry his troubled brother, Irfan, with it. 

Provocative, raw, poetic yet tender, In Our Mad and Furious City announces the arrival of a major new talent in fiction. 

©2018 Guy Gunaratne (P)2018 Headline Publishing Group Ltd

Critic Reviews

"A vivid and affecting account of estate life, both blighted by frustration and elevated by dreams we can all recognise and share." (Stephen Kelman, author of Pigeon English)

"Original, honest voices and a vivid portrayal of a London rarely seen in literature." (Paula Hawkins)

"A love letter to London's streets." (Stylist)

What listeners say about In Our Mad and Furious City

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  • Raggzy
  • 07-06-18

Excellent Subject Matter

As an immigrant the subject matter is of great interest to me - a safe read for Guardian reading middle class people who forgot to check in. on what's really happening in the streets - characterisation is conceptually great, but in reality a tad dull - writing is mediocre - it may not have meant to be, but it came across as stereotypical and predictable. I stopped reading it half way through as I felt I was being talked down to... shame - brilliant idea for a book - clever narrative structure - needed to be re-draughted a few more times before going to print in my humble opinion...

8 people found this helpful

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  • K
  • 05-25-18

beautiful, poignant, authentic, relevant

I love this book. I've not felt so instantly like I'm reading something special since discovering Catcher in the Rye. it's so beautifully told that I knowing what happens in the book wouldn't really diminish it's enjoyment. how this book is written and how the story unfolds through first person accounts is stunning

5 people found this helpful

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  • N16
  • 10-10-18

Everyone should read this

I have waited patiently for a book like Feral Youth by Polly Courtney and it's been a long wait. This is the only other book like it but much broader in its reach. It cleverly and accurately tells the story of the street, from the street but also shows it in a historical context that is blistering in its delivery.

10 stars - five for the book and five for the narration!

2 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-23-18

Phenomenal

Loved it. One of the best novels I have read in years. So powerful and would highly recommend.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Manda N
  • 08-22-18

London; a melting pot of racial tensions

A cleverly plotted and structured read. I can only guess there is much truth in what is written here about London which made me sit up, take notice and keep on listening.

The presentation is excellent with new narrators to audible. I got a bit confused whilst listening to who the voices were but this did not detract from the overall message.

My favourite so far of the three man booker 2018 longlisted books read.

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  • Jessica
  • 06-10-20

Brilliant, brutal, accurate

I listened to this book while living abroad and feeling homesick for London. (Which may strike those who already know the story as amusing, due to its tense content!) Not a relaxing listen, but fascinating and addictive. The character stick in your head. Do give it a go!

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  • bookylady
  • 07-20-19

Thought-provoking

This is a novel which vividly and shockingly describes how many inner city communities have to live these days and in the past - in fear, with few opportunities and deprived of respect.

The plot follows the lives and backstories of several young people and their families, following a brutal attack on a British soldier in North London. There are echoes in it of real events in the recent past and the author has cleverly interwoven strands of modern British history (the Troubles/IRA, the Keep Britain White movement of the 1950s, immigration, Grime culture) into a tightly written narrative.

There is a constant feeling of simmering tension and foreboding within the story. It is not a comfortable read and I nearly gave up on it a few times. I am glad I finished though as it is a thought-provoking book. I can't get some of the issues out of my head; it is certainly a book that has made me think about our society.

I would have to say that, for me, some of the narration was at times irritating. The style of speech/dialect used and the rapid rate of delivery by some of the narrators sometimes left me straining to understand the dialogue. But overall it didn't detract from my overall admiration for the book.

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  • Ms N J Bradley
  • 06-27-19

Full of heartbreaking poetry

Essential to remind the older Londoner of the struggle for our younger generation and the fact that they have to learn their own lessons. Beautiful poetic writing with exquisite pace. Impossible to put down from start to finish

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  • Kerenska
  • 06-10-19

Should have won the Booker

I've only just finished listening, so I am doing more feeling than thinking, but this is a massively assured first novel, that is so quintessentially English and of our time, that it is a mystery that it did not win the Booker Prize.
Its an amazing heartbreaking brilliant novel, that doesn't pull its punches, yet has a strong sense of love and friendship at its centre.
It is based in an estate in Neasden, where the usual inner-city mixture of first to third generation immigrants provides the stage for the telling of the colonialism and racism that has shaped British history, and continues to do so. The 5 principal characters have their own voices (in the excellent narration as well as in the writing) and experiences, but they all know and experience the difficulties of growing up, of surviving place and age, and surviving the lazy clash of ideologies that this century has become. It is a refelction of how excluding people can lead to extremism and each character has to address his or her own crossroads experience. Having said all that, it is not a political novel, its just aware of time and place and totally believable with not a bum note in any of the characterisations.
We are all in this novel, but we might not all have the strength to treat as normal some of the daily experiences of these characters.
The poetic writing - expertly performed, lifts this novel up.
It made me cry, but as much with respect as with sadness.

Best book I have read/listened to this year.

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  • Simon Zohhadi
  • 05-28-19

Ethnic London

Some excellent dialogue. However, the chapters involving Caroline do not maintain the high standard of the dialogue and storyline of the other characters, so 1 star deducted. Most chapters brilliantly capture the voice of ethnic Londoners. Being a Londoner myself, a contemporary novel about London is always welcome.

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  • andrew
  • 09-13-18

Hold your breath...

Guy Gunaratne's vivid characters gave me a glimpse into a blended city that I don't believe can be seen from the outside. 'In Our Mad and Furious City' was a revelation from the first page and would, in my view, be a worthy Booker winner.

I relished this book, not only because Guy had the courage to write it so honestly but, because he did so with such compassion, intelligence and creative imagination that it shifted my own comfortable perceptions.

I loved it.

1 person found this helpful