Caledonian Road

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Pub Date 04 Apr 2024 | Archive Date 19 Apr 2024

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Description

From the author of Mayflies, an irresistible, unputdownable, state-of-the-nation novel - the story of one man's epic fall from grace.

May 2021. London.

Campbell Flynn - art historian and celebrity intellectual - is entering the empire of middle age. Fuelled by an appetite for admiration and the finer things, controversy and novelty, he doesn't take people half as seriously as they take themselves. Which will prove the first of his huge mistakes.

The second? Milo Mangasha, his beguiling and provocative student. Milo inhabits a more precarious world, has experiences and ideas which excite his teacher. He also has a plan.

Over the course of an incendiary year, a web of crimes and secrets and scandals will be revealed, and Campbell Flynn may not be able to protect himself from the shattering exposure of all his privilege really involves. But then, he always knew: when his life came tumbling down, it would occur in public.

'A brilliant state-of-the-nation novel that pulls down the facades of high society, and knocks over the "good liberal" house-of-cards. O'Hagan is not only a peerless chronicler of our times, but has other gifts - of generosity, humour and tenderness - which make this novel an utter joy to read.' Monica Ali

From the author of Mayflies, an irresistible, unputdownable, state-of-the-nation novel - the story of one man's epic fall from grace.

May 2021. London.

Campbell Flynn - art historian and celebrity...


Advance Praise

'A brilliant state-of-the-nation novel that pulls down the facades of high society and knocks over the "good liberal" house-of-cards. An utter joy to read.' Monica Ali

'With this new two-fisted, triple-decker, four-on-the-floor magnum opus, O'Hagan has made more than a great book – he has made a social miracle.' Joshua Cohen

'I loved this novel – loved its ambition and scale and scope and certainty – its panache and brio and the joy in the writing . . . It felt like I hurled myself off a skyscraper called London, and as I fell I managed to snatch a precious glimpse into each different apartment and life.' Peter Morgan, creator of The Crown

Caledonian Road is a remarkable feat of imaginative empathy, panoramic and witty, a Dickensian dream that blazes with profundity and philosophical inquiry. It is O’Hagan’s best novel yet.’ Nikita Lalwani

'A brilliant state-of-the-nation novel that pulls down the facades of high society and knocks over the "good liberal" house-of-cards. An utter joy to read.' Monica Ali

'With this new two-fisted...


Available Editions

EDITION Other Format
ISBN 9780571381357
PRICE £20.00 (GBP)
PAGES 656

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Featured Reviews

The publisher’s blurb calls Caledonian Road a “state-of-the-nation novel”, and that is precisely what it is. Opening in May of 2021 and covering nearly a year — from the loosening of pandemic restrictions to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — big events play out in the background as a wide range of characters experience life in the heart of London in ways that precisely capture the mood of our times: this is one of those rare novels that I can imagine people reading long into the future to see how we lived and thought in this moment. Author Andrew O’Hagan explores issues of class and race and justice along Caledonian Road’s mile and a half length — a North London thoroughfare famous for its high ethnic diversity and staggering disparity of wealth — and through conversations held between a variety of characters, a large breadth of ideas are offered and challenged. This is epic in scope and succeeds completely. This will, no doubt, be huge for O’Hagan upon release in 2024 and I am grateful for the early access.

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A complex, clever novel about rot at the heart of British society. This is a blisteringly angry expose of corruption at every level. Bleak, cynical and fierce, this has a thread of hope running through it, but it's perilously fragile. It reminded me of Mick Herron's Slough House series but without the humour to leaven it. Brilliant, compelling stuff.

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Where to begin with this epic novel .... with echoes of other stories that attempt to explore the state of society and the human condition at certain pivotal points in contemporary history...Caledonian Road is quite simply a rollercoaster of secrets and scandals

Andrew O'Hagan has dived into the the global playground that is London and what emerges is a story of worlds colliding and the darker underbelly of class divisions and the so-called 'establishment " of the rich and privileged.

Campbell Flynn - an art historian and social commentator - has what appears to be the "perfect privileged " lifestyle and with this comes an attitude of laissez-faire and not fully taking issues of life and people's attitudes seriously.. but things start to fall apart...Enter Milo Mangasha - a student of Campbell's - who starts to challenge his perceptions and show him an alternative view of life in modern day London and post Brexit England. Campbell is spellbound and so begins his downfall ..

With a cast of characters (many who are quite odious) there is a sense of a contemporary Dickensian London novel; class divisions, the stench of corruption in politics and and nobility, the confusion of identity in contemporary society and culture, old money versus new money and ultimately the human cost of exploitation to maintain position .. all twist together in a dark fable or our times- rather like a disturbing Brothers' Grimm story- full greed and retribution.

The book feels like a nail in the coffin of "Britain" and old established views and hierarchies- there are no winners.

There is humour amidst the drama and the pace is fast. There are some biting one liners . The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe spring to mind as well as John Boyne's recent Echo Chamber as the reader observes the collapse of preconceived expectations of entitlement.

This is a book that will be much spoken about ... does it give answers ? Not necessarily but it shines a spotlight beautifully on London and the greed, exploitation and the battle to survive .

Biting, satirical, moving,... take a deep breath and enter Caledonian Road but don't expect a smooth swim and this book will without a doubt leave you questioning many, many things!

" What does anything mean in relation to the true value of life and living- is what many value truly worth anything?"


"We thought we were normal. Turns out we were delusional even about our delusions. One day we might look back and say normal was the word we gave to our negligence ."
" You mean, as a society?"
" I mean as people"

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Caledonian Road is the insanely good new book by Andrew O’Hagan (author of the wonderful Mayflies amongst others). A state of the nation novel set in Britain and which starts in May 2021. Brexit and the pandemic provide a loose context though both are only tangentially mentioned.

The novel's primary focus is on the corruption in the heart of the establishment, and how that ripples through the rest of society. It's an epic novel with an impressive scope which embraces Parliament, the aristocracy, street gangs, people smugglers, Russian oligarchs, cultural commentators, business, privilege, immigrants, and high end art dealers. It's extraordinary and perfectly captures the mood of the times. It reminds me a bit of Martin Amis's zeitgeisty novels of the late 80s but, unlike those, casts its net far and wide.

I can't praise it highly enough and look forward to seeing it mentioned in all those end of year lists of the best books. I also predict it will become something of a touchstone for later generations trying to make sense of this era. Make sure you read it.

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Thank you for the advanced copy, I have read all previous work by Andrew O'Hagan and was pleased to get an advanced copy of this.
This is truly a state of the nation novel set on Caledonian Road, which is an area that is very diverse and covers a year starting from May 2021 which is during the COVID pandemic and stops at the invasion of Ukraine by Russia.
I read this in the evenings before bed and felt this was the first one of his that I needed to read in stages.
This is so well written, covers this time period so we'll and goes into what many think but maybe won't say.

This is a must read and I believe will become a novel that many will read in th next few years to look back on this time.

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A fantastic new state-of-the-nation epic from Andrew O'Hagan. A snapshot of the varied lives of those living around the mile and a half long Caledonian Road. It cover a range of topics including class, race, migrant labour, corruption, gang violence, and Russian money.

Brilliantly written and sure to be one that will be read over and over for years to come.

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In my last review I expressed my disappointment that the author had situated their novel in a timeless, place-less bubble. Well, this novel more than made up for it. It is rooted firmly in London - the title refers to a rood just north of Kings Cross, an area that has been transformed in the last decade into a shopping destination, a high-end collection of speciality stores that cater to people with style and money. Campbell and Milo both live close to Caledonian Road, but are from very different backgrounds. Professor Campbell is known for his biography of Vermeer, and moves in circles which include politicians, authors and academics. His son is a DJ and daughter a model and although he was born in a high-rise in Glasgow, he is now related by marriage to minor aristocracy. One of his young students, Milo Mangasha, lives in a flat with his widowed dad and went to the local primary school, where his mum used to teach. He deals in cryptocurrencies and moves easily between his university life and the turf wars of his Caledonian Road friends. The two start to spend time together and their lives and worlds intertwine, revealing inequality, corruption and the threads that run through the communities of London.

The author draws on very recent historical events, including similar incidents and what was particularly notable is that two of these events occurred again whilst I was reading this novel. O’Hagen is writing about important, urgent issues that we are still dealing with and the specificity brings this slap-bang into the present, making this a very pertinent novel. It’s a real page turner with huge cast of characters to be entertained by, to love and to disagree violently with. I would thoroughly recommend this book to any adult who enjoys a good story which illuminates many of the issues that our country faces.

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After Mayflies, Andrew O'Hagan immerses the reader in contemporary London, the global nature of the community, specifically of the vivid, varied quality of Caledonian Road location and the changes it has incurred. It is epic in scale, something you get an immediate grasp of this when right at the start, you are given the list of the huge cast of characters from disparate backgrounds that inhabit this cutting edge, satirical, state of the nation book, with its Victorian feel. It hits hard the nails on the head (and the coffin) in the illuminating picture it paints of Britain today. It lays bare the establishment, culture, power, class inequalities, secrets, crime, the normalisation of a political culture of corruption, money, scandal, academia, the impact of Russian oligarchs, exploitation, slavery, and so much more, as it opens in 2021.

The middle aged University College 'academic' art historian, Campbell Flynn, has written a well received biography on Vermeer, having come a long way from his working class Glasgow roots, he has no PhD and delivers a series of lectures at University College, with no marking involved. He married into minor aristocracy, his writings driven by financial needs, has 2 grown up children, a dubious best friend, sister Moira is an MP, and has an elderly Daily Mail reading tenant whose home is infested with rats. His state of mind greases the path for him to open up to a student, the intelligent Milo Mangasha, working class as Flynn once was, with his challenging perspectives, their worlds colliding, leading to the consequences that flow on from this.

There is a humanity and dark humour in the author's stylish, smart, engaging, beautifully written, and witty read that captivates throughout, the liberal guilt, explicitly drawing connections, the inter-relationships, the incorporation of recent key events, the creation of the many revolting characters, and pressing urgent issues of the day, that you simply do not notice its long length. It is hard to do justice to this relevant and compulsive novel, with its wonderful dialogue and terrific skewering one liners, set amidst the background of the likes of Covid and Brexit, but I have no doubt it will be successful upon publication. What I will say is that I loved it and its ability to hone in with skill, imagination, and thought on the London and Britain of today. A Highly recommended must read. Many thanks to the publisher for an ARC.

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The publisher’s blurb calls Caledonian Road a “state-of-the-nation novel”, and that is precisely what it is. Opening in May of 2021 and covering nearly a year — from the loosening of pandemic restrictions to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — big events play out in the background as a wide range of characters experience life in the heart of London in ways that precisely capture the mood of our times: this is one of those rare novels that I can imagine people reading long into the future to see how we lived and thought in this moment. Author Andrew O’Hagan explores issues of class and race and justice along Caledonian Road’s mile and a half length — a North London thoroughfare famous for its high ethnic diversity and staggering disparity of wealth — and through conversations held between a variety of characters, a large breadth of ideas are offered and challenged. This is epic in scope and succeeds completely. This will, no doubt, be huge for O’Hagan upon release in 2024 and I am grateful for the early access.

Was this review helpful?

I adore O’Hagan. He is an epic writer, always current relevant and thrilling. The relationships and brokenness of the characters always trying to find or redeem themselves in settings we can all relate to.

Just superb thanks

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Caledonian Road is a contemporary read set against the backdrop of London's diverse and vibrant Caledonian Road that depicts British society in the early 2020s. The book discusses issues such as class inequalities and political corruption to the impact of Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic… to name just a few!

Even though it's a serious book, Caledonian Road is worth a read. it’s written in a way that's both smart and darkly humorous. It definitely makes you think about society and the challenges faced by everyday people!

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