The Working Class and Twenty-First-Century British Fiction : Deindustrialisation, Demonisation, Resistance book cover
1st Edition

The Working Class and Twenty-First-Century British Fiction
Deindustrialisation, Demonisation, Resistance

ISBN 9780367441487
Published December 5, 2019 by Routledge
184 Pages

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Book Description

The Working Class and Twenty-First-Century British Fiction looks at how the twenty-first-century British novel has explored contemporary working-class life. Studying the works of David Peace, Gordon Burn, Anthony Cartwright, Ross Raisin, Jenni Fagan, and Sunjeev Sahota, the book shows how they have mapped the shift from deindustrialisation through to stigmatization of individuals and communities who have experienced profound levels of destabilization and unemployment. O'Brien argues that these novels offer ways of understanding fundamental aspects of contemporary capitalism for the working class in modern Britain, including, class struggle, inequality, trauma, social abjection, racism, and stigmatization, exclusively looking at British working-class literature of the twenty-first century.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Class, Culture, Politics


Part One: Mapping Deindustrialisation

Chapter One: David Peace and the Strike Novel: Conflict, History, Knowledge

Chapter Two: Gordon Burn and Working-Class Nostalgia: Region, Form, Commodification

Chapter Three: Anthony Cartwright and the Deindustrial Novel: Realism, Place, Class

Part Two: Resisting Demonisation

Chapter Four: Ross Raisin and Class Mourning: Masculinity, Work, Precarity

Chapter Five: Jenni Fagan and the Revolting Class: Gender, Stigma, Resistance

Chapter Six: Sunjeev Sahota and the Racialised Worker: Class, Race, Violence

Conclusion: Class Matters

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Phil O’Brien has written on working-class fiction and theatre for Textual Practice and Literature & History and in Accelerated Times: British Literature in Transition (Cambridge University Press) and Working-Class Writing: Theory & Practice (Palgrave). He is secretary of the Raymond Williams Society, on the editorial board of Key Words, and editor of Culture & Politics (Verso) by Raymond Williams. He has taught at the University of Manchester and Liverpool John Moores University. This is his first book.


‘What does it mean to be working class in the twenty-first century, decades after industrial jobs and strong unions have given way to low-wage service jobs, contingent labour, and precarity? This book traces how deindustrialisation literature wrestles with this question, revealing how class itself is being reimagined and reshaped by economic restructuring and neoliberalism – while also introducing readers to a range of engaging and entertaining books worth reading’.

Sherry Lee Linkon, Georgetown University, USA.

This book makes a compelling case for the intersections between class and contemporary literature. It brings the academic study of working-class writing bang up to date’.

Nicola Wilson, University of Reading, UK.