Heartland, By Anthony Cartwright

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The Independent Culture

It's spring 2002 in the West Midlands town of Cinderheath and Rob - a once-professional footballer who has since become a schoolteaching assistant - ruefully observes the return of the term "working class" which Tony Blair's government succeeding in banishing, at least for a while.

Anthony Cartwright's brilliant, bleak second novel - set in the aftermath of the 11 September attacks when New York's Twin Towers have barely stopped smouldering - is particularly current in the week of the election.

Rob, mourning the mysterious disappearance of his (possibly radicalised) friend Adnan, observes the growth of the BNP, at a time when World Cup fever (England vs Argentina) segues into racial hostilities.