The Streets, By Anthony Quinn
Boyd Tonkin is Literary Editor at The Independent. An award-winning journalist, he was formerly Social Policy Editor of the New Statesman and has broadcast extensively for BBC arts and current affairs programmes. He has judged the Booker Prize, the Whitbread biography award, the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the David Cohen Prize for a lifetime's achievement in literature.
Friday 21 June 2013
Most historical novelists perch us at the apex of society, and in the plushest seats. Not so Quinn, who in his third novel plunges into London's late-Victorian depths - not, cliché-averse, the East End, but seething St Pancras and Somers Town, with their abject poor and bustling do-gooders.
Beyond its splendid feel for the era's chat and patter, and its zeal for local credibility, the novel pits philanthropy and opportunism, idealism and selfishness, bracingly at odds. High-minded media folk should, especially, take heed.
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