The British Library’s Writing Britain: Wastelands to Wonderlands exhibition opened recently showcasing over 150 great literary works permeated by Britain’s landscape. Celebrating how our natural geography has inspired centuries of groundbreaking literature the exhibition is accompanied by an online ‘Pin-a-Tale’, in which anyone can ‘pin’ favourite works to parts of the country. With London well known for both its evocative landscape and generation of great works of fiction, we thought we’d offer some of our own suggestions (with the help of some of our subscribers).
Sebastian Faulks’ novel follows the lives of seven characters caught up in the maelstrom of modern urban life. From a hedge-fund manager to a schoolboy hooked on skunk and reality TV, Faulks’ characters reflect the diversity of London life, as well as the complexities and difficulties of social distancing. Described as a ‘state of the nation’ novel, A Week in December strikes at the heart of what it means to be a Londoner in the twenty-first century. An expert examination of what the capital can mean to so many people.
Chorus girl twins Dora and Nora and their extended circle of family both blood and adopted embody the eccentric character of London. With their home a ramshackle old guest house in Brixton it contains a varied history that is in tune with the constantly evolving culture that surrounds it. Fairy tales, Shakespeare and the surreal combine to give the novel a carnivalesque feel that reflects the vibrancy of London.
A content and comfortable family man goes about his daily chores in London while pondering the post-modern world. A sudden and seemingly random disturbance from a violent stranger unbalances him, disrupting his sense of security in his neighbourhood. The fragile barrier between the classes in a city so packed with people is left troubled.
Comedic literature doesn’t get more ‘London’ than the oeuvre of Danny Wallace. His novels follow him from humble beginnings in the East End to domestic bliss further West, and with each page any self-respecting Londoner feels a pang. These books are brilliant because (they are funny, but also...) either knowingly or not Wallace encourages not only recognition, but surges of warmth for those London landmarks the tourists don’t get to hear about: your local, the 36 bus, or the curry house on the end of your road - the London we all know but never understood how much we love.
A student explores his independence in the capital in this coming of age story. Sahid, a second generation Pakistani immigrant, is confused and excited by the forces conjured by the city. Western liberal culture, Islamic fundamentalism and eighties drug culture all influence and intoxicate him on his journey of self exploration which is framed by the metamorphosing city.
This coming-of-age story follows a man reminiscing about his childhood during the war. At a young age, him and a friend suspect that a neighbour may be assisting a German spy, and proceed to make investigations. The novel expertly imbues the atmosphere of suspicion and uncertainty which dominated the country during these years, juxtaposing this with the supposed suburban utopia of West London.
Sunbathe on the Roundhouse's rooftop beach, get lost in a world of storytelling in the National Theatre's Propstore or fly to 'Beirut' Pan Am style. This summer, Pop Up Bars are surfacing all around town. Here's our Top 5!
It’s easy to put off that morning jog because it’s too cold, too wet, and too much like jogging. But your lungs need that fresh air. Summer has landed, so it’s your chance to explore the capital’s scenic corners, where running tracks are outlined by flower beds instead of chalk. Exercise isn’t always fun, so here are some alternate outdoor sports for you to enjoy.
The best thing about having kids is days out and the best thing about being a kid is days out. You just need to know where to go, or more specifically where you can find/avoid Peppa Pig. Well, here you go...
Broadway superstar, singer-songwriter and part of the cast of Glee, Idina Menzel has so many strings her bow it’s hard to keep up, quite frankly! Fresh from her one off concert 'Idina Menzel and Friends' at the Hackney Empire and set to perform this much loved live show at the Olivier awards this Sunday, London Calling caught up with her to find out what it’s like being the superwoman of musical theatre!