At first glance, John Lanchester’s latest book—his first novel since 2002’s Fragrant Harbour—lands squarely in that growing subgenre of “recession lit”. Indeed, Capital is being marketed as a “post-crash, state-of-the nation novel”, perhaps aiming to tap into the market that has spawned Anne Enright’s The Forgotten Waltz, Adam Haslett’s Union Atlantic and the most successful of all the credit crunch novels, Sebastian Faulks’ A Week in December.
A slight problem with pigeonholing Capital as “recession lit” is that Lanchester started writing it in 2005. He says: “The chronology is that it became a ‘crash’ novel after the crash happened. I originally started writing about the characters, writing about London. I wanted to write a big, fat London novel. The city has these amazing currents running through it; it is a microcosm of the world, and I wanted to try to capture that.”