Fascism and anti-fascism in Britain – ten novels

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May be an image of ‎book and ‎text that says "‎CHILDREN of the ه SUN Max Schae The Rotters Club ALAN GIBBONS JONATHAN COE STREET OF TALL PEOPLE JO BLOOM NN RIDLEY ROAD October Day HenryWillamson Tarkathe Otternais elSpa Frank Griffin Prime of Miss Jean Brodie Editions MODERN CLASSICS Tariq ehmood While There is Light The Wardrobe Mistress PATRICK McGRATH End at Your Feet Farrukh Dhondy AFTER the PARTY CRESSIDA CONNOLLY HEARTLANI ANTHONY CARTWRIGHT‎"‎‎

With Ridley Road now on the BBC iplayer, I thought I’d post a list here of what I reckon are the ten best novels written about fascism and anti-fascism in Britain:

(10) Farrukh Dhondy, East End At Your Feet

More a short story collection than a novel; in the fifth story “KBW” [Keep Britain White] a neighbouring family is attacked by a gang of 20 racists.

(9) Patrick McGrath, The Wardrobe Mistress

On the death of veteran actor Charles Grice in 1947, his wife Joan learns that he was a fascist and a street-corner antisemite. Will she take revenge on the movement that corrupted him?

(8) Muriel Spark, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

Girls fall madly in love with glamorous and manipulative teacher. But it’s 1933 and the teacher has a crush on Mussolini and Hitler.

(7) Cressida Connolly, After the Party

Glamorous socialite Phyllis Forrester returns to England. She follows her sister Nina into a world of fascist summer camps, and wartime internment

(6) Tariq Mehmood, While There is Light

England and back. An account of the events leading up to the rest of the Bradford 12 in 1981: rude, funny, full of righteous fire.

(5) Anthony Cartwright, Heartland

Cartwright, the novelist-historian of work, Thatcherism and the East Midlands, returns to home territory for a story of the World Cup, local elections and a Sunday-league football game pitting two Tipton teams together, one of them a stooge for the BNP.

(4) Max Schaefer, Children of the Sun

In 2003, gay left-wing screenwriter James becomes obsessed 1980s-ers neo-Nazi Nicky Crane, following his career and friends through the archives and in real life. Perhaps the only ever book to have been praised by both China Mieville and Nick Griffin.

(3) Jonathan Coe, The Rotters Club

It’s Birmingham in 1976, with glam rock, the IRA and teenage Nazi Harding is doing his best A. K. Chesterton impersonation in the school elections. Ben Trotter and his friends meanwhile are exploring sex, London, and Rock Against Racism.

(2) Frank Griffin, October Day

The events of 4 October 1936 – Cable Street – shown Dos-Passos-style through such characters as the winnable but anti-political worker Joe, the policeman Harold Thurgood and a wealthy fascist with who he carries on an affair, Lady Stroud.

(1) Kazuo Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day

Because we’ve all got a little part of Stevens in us, whether we like it or not – that loyalty to the present, to things as they are, which stops us from changing them.

With honourable mentions for the following: Alan Gibbons, Street of Tall People, PH Wodehouse, Code of the Woosters, Richmal Compton, William the Dictator, the screenplay of Young Soul Rebels (which is published as a book), Anders Lustgarten’s play A Day at the Racists (ditto), and (yes) Jo Bloom’s Ridley Road.

2 responses »

  1. I’m afraid we’ve all got a little bit of Harding in us, too.
    “The English are a very violent people […] People don’t realize it, but we are. We repent afterwards, which is why we’re so melancholy. But first of all we do… whatever has to be done.”

  2. Sticking at ten was bound to be a limitation but Pereira Maintains by Antonio Tabucchi could have found a place on your list

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