Jonathan Coe's awards include the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, the Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger, the Prix Medicis Etranger, and, for The Rotters' Club, the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Writing. He lives in London with his wife and their two daughters.
The Rotters' Club (2002), Coe's witty novel of teenage schoolmates growing up in 1970s Birmingham, England, introduced an expansive cast of characters. With echoes of Anthony Trollope and Anthony Powell, this wonderful, compulsively readable sequel explores the adults those young people became-it opens in 1999 and closes in 2003-and paints a satirical but moving portrait of life at the turn of the century. Claire Newman still mourns her sister, who vanished without a trace in The Rotters' Club. Benjamin Trotter still mourns his one true (teenage) love. His brother, Paul, is an ambitious member of Parliament in "Blair's Brave New Britain." Doug Anderton and Philip Chase became journalists, and the first book's other characters all reappear in some way or another (along with flashbacks to many of their teenage escapades). Coe cleverly works real events into the plot-London's Millennium Eve, the possible shutdown of a British auto manufacturer, the war in Iraq. The theme, as in The Rotters' Club, concerns the conflicts and connections between individual decisions and societal events, but while Coe's political sensibility is readily apparent, this novel, with its incredibly well developed characters and its immensely engaging narrative, is no polemical tract. It's a compelling, dramatic and often funny depiction of the way we live now-both savage and heartfelt at the same time. (May 31) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Welcome back to the characters we first encountered in Coe's The Rotter's Club, set at the dawn of the Thatcher years, who now find themselves in discontented middle age. Much like Benjamin Trotter, who has spent his adult years toiling away at a novel based on his own life against the backdrop of the political events of the day, so Coe's story places these characters in the context of the high hopes for the new Labour government, the climate of fear that followed the events of 9/11, and the gradual disillusionment with British Prime Minister Tony Blair after the invasion of Iraq. Benjamin's angst over a childless marriage and unsatisfactory career reaches the crisis point after he finds himself drawn to a young grad student. Events conspire against him as she becomes involved with his brother, a rising star in the Blair government. Their budding relationship attracts the notice of an old schoolmate, now a journalist looking for a scoop that will save his foundering career. This politically incisive sequel may be read and enjoyed independently, but fans of the earlier novel will be rewarded by the welcome return of an engaging cast of characters and the resolution of outstanding mysteries. Highly recommended.-Barbara Love, Kingston Frontenac P.L., Kingston, Ont. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
"Wonderfully witty and compulsively readable. . . . Often laugh-out-loud funny-but Coe has also fashioned a movingly human novel. . . .It's the best novel to date from this talented author." -San Francisco Chronicle "Jonathan Coe may be the most exciting novelist you've never heard of. . . . Coe has every tool a writer can possess, as though he were a super-novelist assembled from the best parts of others." -People "With a nineteenth-century novelist's discursiveness and reach, Coe gives us a meditation on the consequences of terrorism, an examination of the post-9/11 political zeitgeist, a satire of everything from book reviewers to modern parenting." -The Atlantic Monthly "One of the glories of Coe's writing is a magically buoyant narrative technique that makes you feel as though you have been fostering a comfortable intimacy with all his characters since they, and you, were young." -The Daily Telegraph (London) "Immensely satisfying. . . . Coe is a witty writer with a talent for social satire that singes characters without burning away their humanity." -The Washington Post Book World