Our Mad and Furious City by Guy Gunaratne

Welcome to Halfman, Halfbook for my stop on the Blog Tour for Our Mad and Furious City by Guy Gunaratne and published by Tinder Press. This was one of the books longlisted for the Swansea University International Dylan Thomas Prize 2019.


About the Book

For Selvon, Ardan and Yusuf, growing up under the towers of Stones Estate, summer means what it does anywhere: football, music, freedom. But now, after the killing of a British soldier, riots are spreading across the city, and nowhere is safe.

While the fury swirls around them, Selvon and Ardan remain focused on their own obsessions, girls and grime. Their friend Yusuf is caught up in a different tide, a wave of radicalism surging through his local mosque, threatening to carry his troubled brother, Irfan, with it.

Provocative, raw, poetic yet tender, In Our Mad And Furious City marks the arrival of a major new talent in fiction.


About the Author

Guy Gunaratne was born in North West London and has lived in Berlin, Helsinki, San Francisco and Malmö, Sweden. He has worked as a designer, documentary filmmaker and as a video journalist covering post-conflict areas around the world. He co-founded two technology companies and has given public talks on new media, storytelling and human rights issues globally. He now lives in London with his wife and two beautiful cats.


My Review

It was supposed to be like every summer they could remember, hanging out, football, freedom and music. But an off duty soldier has just been murdered and the tension in the air is palpable. The anger in the area is spilling over into riots. Selvon and Ardan are wary of what is going on around them, but their friend, Yusuf, is starting to get caught up in the rise of radicalism in his own mosque. Worryingly, his brother is falling for the rhetoric from the Imam. Watching from the sidelines are the emigres, Caroline from Ireland and Nelson from West India. They and their children, Arden an aspiring rapper and Selvon who is trying to run his way out of the estate.

The bonds that have been forged between the youngsters as they played football and grew up together are going to be stretched to the maximum as the tension builds in the community. A march has been arranged by a right-wing group through the estate, something is going to snap soon, who will survive the coming maelstrom.

Gunaratne’s debut novel has drawn on recent and past events from London’s story of immigration and inner-city estates and is both raw and simmering with tension. It pulses with the language from the street, which did take a while to get the hang of, but added authenticity that fits the backdrop perfectly. Setting the plot over the course of two days works really well too, the pace is relentless with short chapters as the story is told from multiple perspectives. He holds a mirror up to recent events, not to criticise our modern society, but to ask searching questions about why the tensions are there in the first place. Well worth reading as a sparkling contemporary novel.


Don’t forget to visit the other blogs on the blog tour



This is one of the books longlisted for the Swansea University International Dylan Thomas Prize.  Do also take a look at the website here for more information

Recognised for its celebration of experimental and challenging young voices in contemporary writing, this year’s longlist highlights more than ever the challenging world we live by tackling head on difficult topics – including domestic violence, mental health, rape, racism, gender and identity.

This year’s longlist of 12 books comprises eight novels, two short story collections and two poetry collections:

  • Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, Friday Black (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (US) and Riverrun (UK))
  • Michael Donkor, Hold (4th Estate)
  • Clare Fisher, How the Light Gets In (Influx Press)
  • Zoe Gilbert, Folk (Bloomsbury Publishing)
  • Emma Glass, Peach ((Bloomsbury Publishing)
  • Guy Gunaratne, In Our Mad and Furious City (Tinder Press, Headline)
  • Louisa Hall, Trinity (Ecco)
  • Sarah Perry, Melmoth (Serpent’s Tail)
  • Sally Rooney, Normal People (Faber & Faber)
  • Richard Scott, Soho (Faber & Faber)
  • Novuyo Rosa Tshuma, House of Stone (Atlantic Books)
  • Jenny Xie, Eye Level (Graywolf Press)


Don’t forget to buy this and any of the other books at your local independent bookshop. If you’re not sure where your nearest is then you can find one here

My thanks to Agnes at Midas PR for sending me a copy of the book to read.

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  1. Annabel (AnnaBookBel)

    I adored this book – it was the freshest novel I read last year – the dialogue was brilliant! Yes, it took a few pages to get into it, but I so invested in the five main characters by the end.

    • admin

      I liked the way that he captured the tensions in the community too

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