Apr 1, Guardian book club, week one: John Mullan on What a Carve Up! by Jonathan Coe. Apr 23, BOOK REVIEW / Clawing, brutish gargoyles: ‘What a Carve Up]’ – Jonathan Coe: Viking’ pounds – Anthony Quinn on a furiously political. Jonathan Coe writes: “After The Dwarves of Death I knew that it was time to write a more ambitious novel. For a while I toyed with a couple of ideas: there had.

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For a while I toyed with a couple of ideas: I also jotted down some ideas for a novel about a travelling salesman driving the length and breadth of Britain’s motorway network — the story whar would eventually become The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim. Neither of these ideas took flight at the time, however. Instead, after more than hp decade of Thatcherism in the UK, I thought it was a good moment to write a book about some of the changes imposed upon the country in that time.


By chance, the BBC had recently screened for the first time in about twenty years an old comedy film which I remembered seeing when I carbe a child. Its title was What a Carve Upand after watching it again after more than two decades, the first thing I knew about my new novel was that I wanted to use this title. I decided that I could borrow upp from this film than just the title, though.

It belongs to a sub-genre of movie which I particularly enjoyed when I was a young boy: Bob Hope, to name but one, ehat to specialise in this kind of film in the s. It occurred to me that I could take one such family and use them as a kind of metaphor for the British ruling elite, whether they were involved in politics, finance, food production, culture or any other area of national life.

Jonathan Coe: poking fun at broken Britain

Despite having such a narrow focus on British politics, What a Carve Up! That title to which I was so attached proved to be a real headache for my overseas publishers, all the same. Almost nobody managed to come up with an exact version of the carfe, although I’m told that the Swedish attempt, Huggsexacomes pretty close.


Probably the least faithful translation was that suggested by my German publishers, who chose to call the book Allein mit Shirleyemphasising my hero’s erotic obsession with the actress Shirley Eaton. When What a Carve Up!

Book club: What a Carve Up! by Jonathan Coe | Books | The Guardian

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Jonatuan Coe was born on 19 August in Lickey, a suburb of south-west Birmingham. His father worked in the motor industry as a research physicist; his mother was a music and PE teacher.