Labour Research December 2012


London’s overthrow

China Miéville, The Westbourne Press, 96 pages, paperback, £7.99

Miéville is best known for his fantasy novels, but he’s branched out before, producing the crime novel The city & the city. This stayed true to the genre while managing a witty nod to his weird fiction roots.

This short book is something different again. Based on an essay that Miéville wrote for The New York Times Magazine in March this year, it looks at London in a time of austerity at the beginning of the 21st century.

In a series of night-time walks across London in winter last year, he paints a vision of a city that’s ready to explode. He cuts through the hyperbole of politicians to present a view from ordinary London — of the inequality, oppression and indignity, and the hidden, subversive sentiment pervading our streets.

This dreamlike tour of crisis-wracked London is illustrated by his own photographs.

Written at a time when London was preparing for the Olympics and the Occupy protesters were camped outside St Paul’s, Miéville takes a look at immigration, housing, the riots, grime music, sex workers and the Shard skyscraper. Taking in New Cross and Tottenham, Kilburn and the City, this is a book that really tries to get under the skin of the capital.

This review was contributed by the Bookmarks socialist bookshop. Order online at