(VIKING, 432 PP, £16.99)
Tablet Bookshop price £15.30 • tel 020 7799 4064
Jonathan Coe made his name with What A Carve Up!, a gothic state-of-the-nation novel that took the Thatcher settlement to violent comic task. A quarter of a century on, Coe is taking the country’s temperature again – and finding it hot with anger and cold with fear. No prizes for guessing that a book called Middle England isolates Brexit as our national disease. Prizes aplenty, though, for summarising its drift. Middle England, many of whose characters we first met in Coe’s The Rotters’ Club and The Closed Circle, is more densely populated than London. There’s Ben Trotter who, sickened by the Smoke’s hyper-capitalism, has skipped town for an old mill on the River Severn, the better to look after his newly nationalistic dad, Colin.