by Andrew O'Hagan
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Pub Date 04 Apr 2024 | Archive Date 19 Apr 2024
Faber and Faber Ltd, Faber & Faber
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
'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
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Average rating from 15 members
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.
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.
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"
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.
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.