5 great Novels about money
29th Jun 2016
Capital by John Lanchester.
Capital is a big, rich and extremely funny novel that is set around the time of the financial implosion of 2008. It follows a group of Londoners as their ambitions collide with the ongoing financial train wreck. They include a banker and his wife, a performance artist and his grandmother, a Pakistani family, a Zimbabwean refugee… and others. This book is not just about money, though – it’s about the xenophobia brought on by terrorism, and about how people connect (or not) in a 21st century multicultural society. Made into a TV series by the BBC last year, with Toby Jones as Roger, the Banker, this novel could be seen as the modern equivalent to a Charles Dickens or Anthony Trollope.
Money by Martin Amis
Time Magazine included the book in its list of the 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005. The story of John Self and his insatiable appetite for money, alcohol, fast food, drugs, porn and more, Money is ceaselessly inventive and thrillingly savage; a tale of life lived without restraint, of money and the disasters it can precipitate. Dramatised by the BBC in 2010, the novel is based on Amis’ experience as a scriptwriter on the feature film ‘Saturn 3’, which starred the veteran actor Kirk Douglas. The Dire Straits song ‘Heavy Fuel’ is also loosely based on the novel (with the title being taken from the novel).
The Moneychangers by Arthur Hailey
The “New York Times” Number One bestseller from 1976 has recently been re-published. As the day begins at First Mercantile American Bank, so do the high-stake risks, the public scandals, and the private affairs. It is the inside world where secret million-dollar deals are made, manipulated, and sweetened with sex by the men and women who play to win. From the author of ‘Airport’, ‘Hotel’, ‘Strong Medicine’ and ‘Wheels’, The Moneychangers is about banks, and nowadays has a mesmerising period quality. There are no CCTV cameras in bank branches; characters explain credit cards to each other; and, very interestingly, a debate rages between one executive (liberal and generous) who wants to lend expansively to the urban poor and another (hard-headed) who only wants to lend on good prospects and make lots of money. A million-seller that is also a great read.
Money for Nothing by John Harman
John Harman’s absorbing thriller about a gigantic and ingenious fraud is peopled with men and women whose love of money drives them on to outrageous crimes. From the discreet Swiss bankers to the ruthless Mafia bosses, from the bloody guerrillas to the high-ranking men of the English professional classes, greed is the theme and blood is the price. ‘Cleverly conceived and constructed’ –The Sunday Times; ‘Expertly woven web of fraud, suspicion and crime’ –Oxford Mail.
Making Money by Terry Pratchett
Book no. 36 in the ‘Discworld’ universe, this is more or less a follow-up to Going Postal in which Moist von Lipwig is pressured into doing for the banking system what he did for the Post Office. Some great new characters in Fusspot, Chairman of the Bank (and a dog), Cosmo Lavish, head of the family that owns the bank and a Vetinari want-to-be, and Mr Bent, the chief cashier with a surprising past. Moist's girlfriend makes an appearance as does a long dead wizard and an economic modelling machine called the Glooper. Any novel that includes the line “the girl could flounce better than a fat turkey on a trampoline” must be worth a read, and this is vintage Pratchett, with plenty of laughs along the way.