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London Fiction Collection: Welcome

A cross-genre fiction collection of books based in and around London.
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About the London Fiction Collection

The London Fiction collection contains an eclectic array of genres, periods, styles, and voices. While they all share their London setting, each book expresses a unique vision of the capital, creating a collection that’s diverse, expansive, and entertaining – just like the city itself...

About the books

Book cover: Rivers of London

Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

"My name is Peter Grant and until January I was just a probationary constable in the Metropolitan Police Service. Then one night, in pursuance of a murder inquiry, I tried to take a witness statement from someone who was dead and that brought me to the attention of Inspector Nightingale, the last wizard in England."

Book cover: Minaret

Minaret by Leila Aboulela

"After a coup in Sudan forces Najwa and her family into political exile in London, she soon realises that she has come down in the world. But she finds solace in her visits to the Regents Park Mosque. Then she meets Tamer, the lonely younger brother of her employer and slowly they fall in love."

Book cover: Brick Lane

Brick Lane by Monica Ali

"In this tale of two Muslim sisters, Monica Ali explores how they live out their own personal tragedies. One lives in a tower block in London's East End whilst the other lives in a Bangladeshi village."

Book cover: In the Kitchen

In the Kitchen by Monica Ali

"This novel opens with a mysterious death in the cellars of a smart, cosmopolitan hotel and over the course of the ensuing pages, peels back the layers of polyglot London to reveal the melting pot which exists below."

Book cover: London Fields

London Fields by Martin Amis

"The narrator of this tale, Samson Young, enters the Black Cross, an undesirable public house, and finds the main characters of his drama waiting to begin."

Book cover: Murphy

Murphy by Samuel Beckett

"This novel was first published in 1938. Its work-shy eponymous hero, adrift in London, realises that desire can never be satisfied and withdraws from life, in search of stupor. Murphy's lovestruck fiancé Celia tries with tragic pathos to draw him back, but her attempts are doomed to failure."

Book cover: To Sir, With Love

To Sir, With Love by E. R. Braithwaite

"In 1945, Rick Braithwaite, an ex-RAF pilot, looks for a job in British engineering. He is shocked to realise that, as a Black man from British Guiana, no one will employ him because of the colour of his skin. In desperation he takes a teaching job in a tough East End school, where he's left to govern a class of unruly teenagers."

Book cover: Hearts and Minds

Hearts and Minds by Amanda Craig

"The great opportunistic metropolis that is 21st-century London draws in thousands of immigrants. This population fills the spaces unwanted by the majority - invisible, untraceable and powerless. So when a murdered girl is fished from Hampstead Ponds one morning, she could be anyone."

Book cover: A Study in Scarlet (Graphic Novel)

A Study in Scarlet (Graphic Novel) by Arthur Conan Doyle, Ian Edginton and I. N. J. Culbard

"A Study in Scarlet is where we meet Holmes for the first time. Dr Watson relates how he met Holmes in the course of an impossible crime investigation which baffled the police."

Book cover: A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

"Ebenezer Scrooge is a miserly old skinflint. He hates everyone, especially children. But at Christmas three ghosts come to visit him, scare him into mending his ways, and he finds, as he celebrates with Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim and their family, that geniality brings its own reward."

Book cover: Oliver Twist

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

"When the half-starved Oliver in the workhouse asked for 'more', Dickens created the 19th century's most famous image of protest against cruelty. Yet Oliver Twist develops from a topical satire into something greater. What unfolds is a powerful and violent struggle between Good and Evil, as Oliver becomes ensnared in the labyrinth of London and the nightmare world of Fagin."

Book cover: Belinda

Belinda by Maria Edgeworth

"Maria Edgeworth tackles issues of gender and race in a manner at once comic and thought-provoking. Braving the perils of the marriage market, Belinda learns to think for herself as the examples of her friends prove singularly unreliable. This lively comedy challenges the conventions of courtship, examines questions of female independence, and exposes the limits of domesticity."

Book cover: Mr Loverman

Mr Loverman by Bernardine Evaristo

"Barrington Jedidiah Walker is 74 and leads a double life. Born and bred in Antigua, he's lived in Hackney since the 60s. He is husband to the deeply religious Carmel, father and grandfather - but he is also secretly the lover of his childhood friend, Morris. Now Barrington wants to divorce Carmel and live with Morris, but after a lifetime of fear and deception, will he manage to break away?"

Book cover: Tom Jones

Tom Jones by Henry Fielding

"Tom Jones is one of the earliest English novels, and was hugely popular when it was first published in 1749. It tells the story of the foundling Tom and his journey towards adulthood and marriage. As might be expected, this journey is a complicated one: he encounters a vivid cast of characters including robbers, soldiers, gypsies and untrustworthy lawyers."

Book cover: Neverwhere

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

"Under the streets of London there's a world most people could never even dream of. A city of monsters and saints, murderers and angels, and pale girls in black velvet. Richard Mayhew is a young businessman who is about to find out more than he bargained for about this other London. A single act of kindness catapults him out of his safe and predictable life and into a world that is at once eerily familiar and yet utterly bizarre."

Book cover: The Cuckoo's Calling

The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith

"Written under a pseudonym by J.K. Rowling, this gripping, elegant mystery is steeped in the atmosphere of London. A war veteran wounded both physically and psychologically, Cormoran Strike's life is in disarray but the case he is working on gives him a lifeline, despite coming at a personal cost."

Book cover: A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers

A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers by Xiaolu Guo

"What happens when a Chinese woman falls in love with an Englishman and realises that learning the language doesn't necessarily lead to understanding? Funny, sexy, romantic and sad, 'A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers' is a love story for the modern age."

Book cover: How to Stop Time

How to Stop Time by Matt Haig

"Tom Hazard may look like an ordinary 41-year-old, but he was born in 1581. Owing to a rare condition, he's been alive for centuries. Always changing his identity to stay alive, Tom now has the perfect cover - working as a history teacher at a London school. Here, he can teach the kids about wars and witch hunts as if he'd never witnessed them first-hand. The only thing Tom mustn't do is fall in love."

Book cover: Heathrow

Heathrow by David Hough

"When a fire disrupts the London Air Traffic Control Centre, the controllers move to an emergency control room at Heathrow. Which is exactly where a group of terrorists want them. But there is more to the situation than first meets the eye. This is not just an attack on Heathrow. Things will get even worse before the truth emerges. By then, there seems to be no way to stop a terrorist attack far more shocking than anyone had imagined."

Book cover: Pigeon English

Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman

"With equal fascination for the local gang - the Dell Farm Crew - and the pigeon who visits his balcony, 11-year-old Harri absorbs the many strange elements of his new life in England. But when a boy is knifed to death and a police appeal for witnesses draws only silence, Harri decides to start a murder investigation of his own."

Book cover: I am Thunder

I Am Thunder by Muhammad Khan

"15-year-old Muzna Saleem is passionate about writing and dreams of becoming a novelist. There's just one problem - her super-controlling parents have already planned her life out for her. No one is more surprised than humble Muzna when high school hottie, Arif Malik, takes an interest in her. But Arif and his brother are angry at the West for demonising Islam and hiding a terrible secret."

Book cover: The Buddha of Suburbia

The Buddha of Suburbia by Hanif Kureishi

"Karim Amir, 'an Englishman born and bred - almost', lives with his English mother and Indian father in the routine comfort of the South London suburbs and dreams of escape to London proper. The years of frustration come to an eng when his father, the ebullient Buddha of Suburbia, finally leads the way with his glamorous lover, Eva, and introduces Karim to a thrilling life in the city."

Book cover: Capital

Capital by John Lanchester

"It’s 2008 and things are falling apart: Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers are going under, and the residents of Pepys Road, London — a banker and his shopaholic wife, an old woman dying of a brain tumor and her graffiti-artist grandson, Pakistani shop owners and a shadowy refugee, the young soccer star from Senegal and his minder — are receiving anonymous postcards reading 'We Want What You Have.'"

Book cover: Small Island

Small Island by Andrea Levy

"Returning to England after the war Gilbert Joseph is treated very differently now that he is no longer in an RAF uniform. Joined by his wife Hortense, he rekindles a friendship with Queenie who takes in Jamaican lodgers. Can their dreams of a better life in England overcome the prejudice they face?"

Book cover: Absolute Beginners

Absolute Beginners by Colin MacInnes

"A 20th century cult classic, Absolute Beginners remains the style bible for anyone interested in Mod culture and paints a vivid picture of a changing society with insight and sensitivity."

Book cover: Londonstani

Londonstani by Gautam Malkani

"Set close to the Heathrow feed roads of Hounslow, we follow a gang of four young men: Hardjit the ring leader, a Sikh, determined his caste stay pure; Ravi, a sheep following the herd; Amit, whose brother is struggling to win parental approval to marry a Hindu girl; and Jas, desperate to impress these three, desperate too for Samira, a Muslim girl, which in this story can only have bad consequences."

Book cover: London Belongs to Us

London Belongs to Us by Sarra Manning

"When 17-year-old Sunny is sent a picture of her boyfriend kissing another girl, she knows she's got to act. What follows is a 12-hour over-night dash around London. Along the way Sunny meets a whole host of characters, all willing to help a girl on a mission to get her romantic retribution."

Book cover: Saturday

Saturday by Ian McEwan

"Saturday is a novel set within a single day in February 2003. Henry Perowne is a contented man, but what troubles him is the state of the world. Following a minor car accident, Perowne is brought into contact with a small-time thug called Miller. This meeting has savage consequences."

Book cover: From Hell (Graphic Novel)

From Hell (Graphic Novel) by Alan Moore

"This major graphic novel was a multi-award winning serial and tells the story of Jack the Ripper, the most infamous serial murderer of all time."

Book cover: V for Vendetta (Graphic Novel)

V for Vendetta (Graphic Novel) by Alan Moore

"V for Vendetta is a frightening and powerful tale of the loss of freedom and identity in a chillingly believable totalitarian world. Set in an imagined future England that has given itself over to fascism, this groundbreaking story captures both the suffocating nature of life in an authoritarian police state and the redemptive power of the human spirit which rebels against it."

Book cover: Her Fearful Symmetry

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

"Julia and Valentina Poole are identical twins who have no interest in college, jobs or anything outside their cosy suburban home. But everything changes when they receive notice that an aunt whom they didn't know existed has died and left them her flat in an apartment block overlooking Highgate Cemetery in London."

Book cover: The Hand that First Held Mine

The Hand that First Held Mine by Maggie O'Farrell

"When the bohemian, sophisticated Innes Kent turns up by chance on her doorstep, Lexie Sinclair realises she cannot wait any longer for her life to begin, and leaves for London. There, at the heart of the 1950s Soho art scene, she carves out a new life for herself, with Innes at her side."

Book cover: The Watchmaker of Filigree Street

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley

"In 1883, Thaniel Steepleton returns to his tiny flat to find the lock picked and a gold pocketwatch on his pillow. When the watch saves Thaniel's life from an attack on parliament, he goes in search of its maker, Keita Mori - a kind, lonely immigrant. Although Mori seems harmless at first, a chain of slips soon proves that he must be hiding something."

Book cover: The Antipope

The Antipope by Robert Rankin

"You could say it all started with the red-eyed tramp with the slimy fingers who put the wind up Neville, the part-time barman, something rotten. Or when Archroy's wife swapped his trusty Morris Minor for five magic beansPooley and Omally, stars of the Brentford Labour Exchange and the Flying Swan, want nothing to do with it. Pope Alexander VI, last of the Borgias, has other ideas... "

Book cover: London

London by Edward Rutherfurd

"In this novel Edward Rutherfurd takes the reader on a magnificent journey across sixteen centuries from the days of the Romans to the Victorian engineers of Tower Bridge and the era dockland development of today. Through the lives and adventures of his colourful cast of characters he brings all the richness of London's past unforgettably to life."

Book cover: The Lonely Londoners

The Lonely Londonders by Samuel Selvon

"From the brilliant, sharp, witty pen of Sam Selvon, this is a classic award-winning novel of immigrant life in London in the 1950s."

Book cover: The Book of Dave

The Book of Dave by Will Self

"The Book of Dave is based around the rants of Dave Rudman - a disgruntled East End taxi driver - who writes his woes down and buries them, only to have them discovered 500 years later and used as the sacred text for a religion that has taken hold in the flooded remnants of London."

Book cover: Home Fire

Home Fire by Kamila Shamshie

"Isma is free. After years spent raising her twin siblings, she is finally studying in America. But she can't stop worrying about her headstrong sister back in London - or their brother, who's determined to prove himself to the dark legacy of the jihadist father he never knew. Then Eamonn, son of a powerful British Muslim politician, enters their lives. Is he to be a chance at love?"

Book cover: NW

NW by Zadie Smith

"Zadie Smith's tragi-comic NW follows four Londoners after they've left their childhood council estate, grown up and moved on to different lives. From private houses to public parks, at work and at play, their city is brutal, beautiful and complicated. Yet after a chance encounter they each find that the choices they've made, the people they once were and are now, can suddenly, rapidly unravel."

Book cover: Swing Time

Swing Time by Zadie Smith

"Two girls dream of being dancers - but only one, Tracey, has talent. The other has ideas: about rhythm and time, about black bodies and black music, what constitutes a tribe, or makes a person truly free. It's a close but complicated childhood friendship that ends abruptly in their early twenties, never to be revisited, but never quite forgotten, either."

Book cover: White Teeth

White Teeth by Zadie Smith

"White Teeth is a comic epic of multicultural Britain by one of the most exciting young writers of 2000. It tells the story of immigrants in England over a period of 40 years."

Book cover: The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

"In seeking to discover his inner self, the brilliant Dr Jekyll discovers a monster. First published to critical acclaim in 1886, this mesmerising thriller is a terrifying study of the duality of man's nature, and it is the book which established Stevenson's reputation as a writer."

Book cover: The Road Home

The Road Home by Rose Tremain

"Lev is on his way from Eastern Europe to Britain, seeking work. Behind him loom the figures of his dead wife, his beloved young daughter and his outrageous friend Rudi who lives largely for his battered Chevrolet. Ahead of Lev lies the deep strangeness of the British. London holds out the alluring possibility of friendship, sex, money, a new career and, if Lev is lucky, a new sense of belonging."

Book cover: Fingersmith

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

"London 1862. Sue Trinder, orphaned at birth, grows up among petty thieves under the rough but loving care of Mrs Sucksby. But from the moment she draws breath, Sue's fate is linked to that of another orphan growing up in a gloomy mansion not too many miles away. Sue is persuaded to pose as a lady's maid to rob this young heiress of her fortune, but soon she begins care for her helpless mark in unexpected ways."

Book cover: Mrs Dalloway

Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

"This novel explores the hidden springs of thought and action in one day of a woman's life. Virginia Woolf is direct and vivid in her account of the details of Clarissa Dalloway's preparation for a party."

Where can I find the collection?

The London Fiction Collection is located on the Ground Floor of the Paul Hamlyn Library, next to the Reservations shelf and self-service machines.

Photograph of the London Fiction Collection bookshelf

You can also view all the titles on our Reading List.

Tell us what you think!

Do you have a review to share? Get involved by Tweeting us @UWL_Library with #LondonFiction.

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Book reviews

Clare recommends... How to Stop Time by Matt Haig

Photograph of Clare reading 'How to Stop Time' by Matt Haig

"Tom Hazard has a secret condition. He is 400 years old but doesn’t look a day over 41. How to Stop Time is a chronologically bending love story that is both moving and exhilarating. Great for lovers of both historical and contemporary fiction. Apparently, Benedict Cumberbatch is going to star in the film. Must be good!"


Angela recommends... Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

Photo of Angela holding a copy of 'Rivers of London' by Ben Aaronovitch

"Part urban fantasy, part police procedural, Rivers of London is told from the PoV of a mixed race North London boy, a new Police Constable who’s just discovered that ghosts don’t make very reliable crime-scene witnesses. If you know – or want to know – London and like your mystery with a bit of magic you’ll love this"


Carmella recommends... Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

Photo of Carmella holding a copy of 'Fingersmith' by Sarah Waters in front of her face

"Fingersmith is the perfect neo-Gothic novel. Set in and around Dickensian London, it has all the suspense, mystery, excitement and romance that comes with the setting, plus the one thing missing from Dickens - two women falling in love. Not to mention that plot-twist half-way through... you'll never see it coming!"


Hanna recommends... A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers by Xiaolu Guo

Photo of Hanna Reading 'A Concise Chinese-English Dicitonary for Lovers' by Xiaolu Guo


Julian recommends... Capital by John Lanchester

"A highly readable and entertaining look at the experience of a group of Londoners from vastly different backgrounds following the financial crash of 2008. What links them all; rich and poor, is a single street, and a mystery. Just who is sending the “We want what you have” anonymous messages to everyone?"