Sam Byers ‘Perfidious Albion’

Its only right that we should try to share what we have with those who have less. But what we have in Britain now is a society that asks those who work to share their earnings with those that scrounge; those who have grown up here to share their hard-fought space with those that have just arrived; and those who deserve their place to share it with those who merely envy it.

Sam Buyers’ Perfidious Albion is a dark satire on post Brexit Britain, his story takes place in Edmunsbury, a small town in southeastern Britain where at the outset the town is trying to redefine itself, the story opens at a party at Jacques DeCoverley’s where we meet a varying group of people that have left London and are trying to be someone in the opinion-sphere, from DeCoverley who writes about pavements to Robert, a left leaning blogger and his girlfriend Jess, the main protagonist of the book, the narrator observes her situation, for example:

Jess popped to the toilet to tweet. Back in the room, an assortment of indistinct men – bearded and earnest and flushed with credentials – talked at her or for her, but never quite to her.

Jess, after having been seriously abused online had set up multiple false identities for blogging such as Byron Stroud who had become very influential within the opinion-sphere, partly because he only wrote about the opinion-sphere and Julia Benjamin, a feminist, who had become the main online critic of Jess’ boyfriend Robert.

The Larchwood estate, a failing housing project, worth much more empty than with its current residents is being emptied and then Buyers Paints a none too flattering picture of the opportunistic right wing party, England Always, and its local representative Hugo Bennington with the opening quote representing one of his initial quotes. Through the events within the book, Buyers by way of satire, deconstructs the use of fear and through this the linked subjects of violence and race by opportunistic right-wing political parties, for instance the analysis of audience response by his assistant Teddy:

‘That spike is just a huge upsurge up people calling me a twat the moment I appeared on television.’
‘Isn’t it amazing?’
‘How is that amazing?’
‘Because it’s free publicity. You can’t buy this kind of amplification, Hugo.’
‘But it’s negative publicity.’
‘No such thing. Negative publicity is like antimatter. It’s an urban myth.’
‘I don’t think antimatter is an urban myth Teddy.’
‘Alright then, show me some antimatter.’
‘Well, obviously I can’t show you some antimatter, because it’s—’
‘Right. If you can’t show it to me, it doesn’t exist. You see what I’m saying? It might very well actually exist, but to all intents and purposes, it doesn’t.’

There is a tentacular secretive tech firm in Edmunsbury which are at the centre of much of the intrigue and for which Buyers tells us something of Jess’ and of course probably his own view of modern corruption:

Jess wasn’t sure when the architectural love affair with glass was going to come to an end but whenever it was it wouldn’t be soon enough. As politics and commerce had become murkier, so the buildings in which vital transactions took place had become ever more resplendently clear, as if recognizing that in the flattened homogeneity of the present all actions, both benign and malicious, now looked the same: a squint at a screen, a series of keystrokes, the choreography of global espionnage now no different to the microritual of online shopping.

And finally in the build up there is Robert, a none too successful blogger for an online newsletter trying to get by and being manoeuvred by a mixture between his own ambition to exist and his editor:

‘People are being lied to. People are being intimidated. Are you trying to tell me people don’t want to read about—’
‘They want to read about things that are cool, funny or evil. That’s the holy trinity.’

The powder keg is then ready and waiting for the spark, which is provided by an unfortunate tweet as Trina, a coloured worker at the techfirm when watching Bennington can’t listen anymore and tweets #whitemalegenocide. lol. This is the spark that leads to the chain of events where the true satire really gets underway with the instrumentalisation of this tweet.

A very much up to date biting satire following in the tradition of Tom Sharp.

First Published in English as “Perfidious Albion” in 2018 by Faber & Faber.

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