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The Aids Memorial

Q&A Jonathan Coe, Novelist, 57

Par Interview By Lisa O’kelly - 5 mn

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‘Novels help us understand what’s going on’: Jonathan Coe photographed at the Olympic cinema, southwest London. Karen Robinson for the Observer New Review

The comic writer on his latest novel about the EU referendum, his popularity in France and why it’s important to set books in the Midlands

Jonathan Coe is the award-winning author of 12 novels, including What a Carve Up! and The Rotters’ Club , both of which were adapted for BBC radio and TV. His new novel, Middle England , is out on 8 November and chronicles the lead-up to and aftermath of the EU referendum.

Middle England is set very much in the moment – the last chapter is dated September 2018. How did it evolve?

I had this sense, which kicked in just after the referendum in the summer of 2016, that this was an extraordinary moment in British life and it would be a good thing to write a book about it, but I had no idea how to do it. Then I had an epiphany. I had been wanting to revisit the characters from The Rotters’ Club...