A Week In December by Sebastian Faulks
A Week in December, Sebastian Faulks’s tenth novel, came out in September 2009 to considerable press attention. Much of it focussed on his attempt to write a ‘state of the nation’ book at a time of economic meltdown and admired the ambition and the execution of the idea. It ‘could hardly be more timely’, said The Times; it is ‘unequivocally successful,’ said the Guardian and ‘perfectly constructed’, according to the Telegraph.
Faulks began with the intention of writing what he called a ‘modern Dickensian novel’, one in which characters from different walks of life were linked by initially unseen connections and in which London itself played an important part. The main characters are John Veals, a hedge fund manager, and his son, Finbar; Hassan al-Rashid, a student, and his father, known as Knocker; Jenni Fortune, a Tube train driver; Gabriel Northwood, a barrister; and R. Tranter, a hack journalist. At the beginning of the book it seems that all are destined to meet at a party given by a new MP’s ambitious wife, Sophie Topping; but what underpins and binds them all is that the lives they lead are virtual or synthetic: all have become disconnected from the ‘real’ world