Mother London: A Novel Michael Moorcock

ISBN: 9780436284618



Mother London: A Novel  by  Michael Moorcock

Mother London: A Novel by Michael Moorcock
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Michael Moorcocks Mother London is perhaps his best known literary work and for good reason. Shortlisted for the Whitbread fiction prize this has the feel of a novel by a writer at the acme of his powers. A large, though never sprawling, novel Mother London follows three mental-hospital outpatients Mary Gasalee, David Mummery and Josef Kiss and their friends, in an episodic, non-linear history of the capital from the Blitz to present day. Most noteworthy is the astounding humanity of the novel (a quality redolent in all his work including its excellent follow up King of the City), with all of Londons outcasts and marginals mentioned and defended.

This could have reduced the novel to polemic, to parody or to the dreadful, mind-narrowing of political correctness but instead is testimony to the fact that Moorcock has created such a fine array of believable, flawed, kind characters. Throughout the book the voice of ordinary Londoners forces its way into the narratives through snippets of conversations overheard by the three main characters who each have, to a greater or lesser extent, the gift of telepathy.

This hint of magic is underplayed throughout so that the work never succumbs to the straitjacket of magical realism itself: the conceit is used very successfully to take our characters out of themselves, and to allow London, and the voices that constitute her being, into the novel as a character herself. A vast and superb achievement (London novelists such as Charles Dickens, Peter Ackroyd and Iain Sinclair all come to mind as peers), Mother London is a book to cherish--rarely have the voices of this wonderful city spoken out so clearly through such an expansive story.

--Mark Thwaite

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