Ealing Library CityRead Panel

So, as part of CityRead, which starts on April 2nd,  I’m going to be on a panel at Ealing Library, together with Sarah Parker of Cityread London, Amma Poku Community Services & Volunteer Co-ordinator at Ealing Libraries, and Hazel Talbot of Ealing Arts Saturday 27th April at 2.30, talking about books set in London.

In preparation, I’m reading the keynote book, A Week in December by Sebastian Faulks, and thinking about reading other books of literary and London-based merit. Apart from a couple of favourites I had a bit of a blank out, so I asked our lovely authors for recommendations, and this is what they came up with:

– the last bit on each line is where the book is set. Those in bold got multiple recommendations. I’ve already read quite a few of these – marked with an * (and some I’d never heard of) and I certainly don’t have time to read them all! Anything you think is missing? Any you would particularly recommend?

Cityread London (1)Alexander Baron  –  Rosie Hogarth  –  Islington

Anthony Cronin – The Life Of Riley – Camden

Arthur Ransome  – Bohemia In London – Chelsea

*Barbara Vine – King Solomon’s Carpet – West

Bobbie Darbyshire – Truth Games – Camden Town, Finchley Road, Highgate, Hackney, Fulham and Balham

Colin Mcinnes – Absolute Beginners –  Notting Hill

Diana Evans – 26a – Neasden

Dorothy Richardson – The Tunnel – Bloomsbury

*Elizabeth Bowen – The Heat Of The Day – Regents Park

Gautam Malkani – Londonstani – Hounslow

*Geoff Ryman – 253 – Lambeth North, Waterloo, Elephant & Castle

George Gissing  – The Nether World – Clerkenwell

Gerald Kersh – Fowlers End – Teddington

*Grossmith – Diary Of A Nobody – Holloway

Iris Murdoch – Under The Net – Hammersmith

J G Ballard – Crash – West

*Jeremy Gavron – An Acre Of Barren Ground – Brick Lane

John Lanchester – Capital – Telegraph Hill

Lloyd Shepherd  – The English Monster  – Wapping

Maggie O’Farrell – The Hand That Once Held Mine – Hampstead/Soho

Martin Amis  – London Fields  – Hackney

*Monica Ali – Brick Lane – East

*Muriel Spark  – The Girls Of Slender Means – Kensington

*Neil Gaiman – Neverwhere – London Below

*Nick Hornby – A Long Way Down – North

*Nick Hornby – High Fidelity – North

Norman Collins – London Belongs To Me – Kenington

Patrick Hamilton – Hangover Square – Earl’s Court

Patrick Hamilton – 100 Streets Under The Sky – Soho

Penelope Fitzgerald – Off Shore – Chelsea

Penny Rudge – Foolish Lessons In Love And Life – South

Peter Ackroyd – Hawksmoor – East

Ruth Rendell – A Demon In My View – West

Ruth Rendell – Going Wrong – West

*Sarah Waters – Night Watch – East/City

Shena Mackay  – Heligoland – Crystal Palace And Norwood

Tim Parks  – Tongues Of Flame –  Finchley

Tony White – Foxy T – East

*Wilkie Collins  – The Woman In White – St John’s Wood, Hampstead

Yvette Edwards – A Cupboard Full Of Coats – East

*Zadie Smith – White Teeth – North West

Zadie Smith – NW – North West

And, of course, our own London Lies and Stations!

I do have to say I have read piles of London books I wouldn’t recommend, some because they don’t get the geography right ( a bit of a bugbear – as can be attested by authors and would be authors for Stations – ignore the street layout or depth of the railway cutting at your peril!) some because I just didn’t like them. I will restrain myself from the lengthy list of books thrown across the room in rage!

Underground fiction

I was chatting with Robert Hulse the Director of the excellent Brunel Museum the other day about Stations, and mentioned Barbara Vine’s King Solomon’s Carpet which got me on to thinking about how the London Underground turns up all sorts of places.  Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere being an obvious example. So I did an idle search (the way you do, and found this: Wikipedia list of fiction on the underground. 

I don’t suppose this list is in any way complete, and for a start, I remember a story set on the Piccadilly line I read on-line last year which involved spectacles left at Cockfosters and lost luggage offices which was very entertaining which isn’t on here (Can’t remember who it was by, can anyone help?). And I met Sarah Butler at a NAWE workshop a couple of weeks ago, and she produced The Central Line Stories with London Underground a couple of years ago – so, with next year the 150th Anniversary of the Underground, maybe its time to read some London Transport fiction?  You could start with Stations, which will be gracing the bookshops and not a few railway carriages, I shouldn’t wonder in only a months time!