The Days and Nights of London Now - As Told by Those Who Love It, Hate It, Live It, Left It and Long for It

Craig Taylor

Published: 3 November 2011
Hardback, Royal HB
156x234mm, 400 pages
ISBN: 9781847082534

Other Editions


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Published: 5 July 2012
Paperback, B Format
129x198mm, 448 pages
ISBN: 9781847083296

Ebook Available


Here are the voices of London - rich and poor, native and immigrant, women and men - witnessed by Craig Taylor, an acclaimed journalist, playwright and writer, who spent five years exploring the city and listening to its residents.

From the woman who is the voice of the London Underground to the man who plants the trees along Oxford Street; from a Pakistani currency trader to a Guardsman at Buckingham Palace; from the marriage registrar at Westminster Town Hall to the director of the biggest Bethnal Green funeral parlour - together, these voices and many more, paint a vivid, epic and wholly fresh portrait of Twenty-First Century London.

About the author

Image of Craig Taylor

Craig Taylor is the author of two books, Return to Akenfield and One Million Tiny Plays About Britain, which began life as a column in the Guardian newspaper. Both have been adapted for the stage. He is the editor of the literary magazine, Five Dials. His third book, Londoners: The Days and Nights of London Now - As Told by Those Who Love It, Hate It, Live It, Left It and Long for It will be published autumn, 2011. Born in Edmonton, Alberta, he grew up on Vancouver Island. He now lives in London. More about the author


‘Craig Taylor tunes in to the multi-tongued, self-justifying noise of the streets. And he leaves us with a substantial account, not just of our imaginary riverside capital, but, more vividly, of himself: as inquirer, investigator, part of a long and valuable lineage ... Listening to all the voices, an authentic London does emerge ... Here is a monument pieced together from a mass of broken shards. A work made from work, from movement. As Taylor says in his introduction: "London is propulsion, it rewards those who push forward."’ Iain Sinclair



‘[A] splendid oral history of the city. Taylor is, like many of the best writers about London, an outsider ... What makes Londoners as valuable as any sociological treatise is Taylor's appreciation of the ways in which his subjects are themselves surveying, analysing and theorising the turbulent city in which they live ... On occasions Londoners attains a level of eloquence as beautiful and blue as anything to be found in the works of Jean Rhys or Samuel Selvon ... A remarkable volume’ Sukhdev Sandhu

‘A remarkable new book that celebrates the city's endless diversity’

‘In Londoners, Craig Taylor has hit upon a wonderfully simple idea ... There are 85 stories told here, and I guarantee that at least 84 of them will be completely different from your own ...’ Euan Ferguson

‘A compelling oral history that reveals the capital through the voices of 80 or so ordinary Londoners who live and work in the capital now’

‘The Best book about London in at least a decade ... Treat yourself to the hardback, for you really are investing in a classic’

‘The most humane attempt in some time to capture London's big dirty heart ... Taylor, in his unsentimental but moving introduction, sums up London as an agent of propulsion, a hellhole, a wonderland. His interviews follow in plain, unvarnished transcripts, carefully curated into a Studs Terkal-like treasure trove ... There is in London - and this great book indeed - all that life can afford’ Jude Rogers

‘A definitive picture of the city by the people who live there ... These first-person accounts have been masterfully edited to evoke the real voices of London and create a record as true and important as any fact-filled history of our capital’

‘A haunting snapshot of contemporary London, by a Canadian whose intimate interviews with the city's inhabitants are both charming and revealing’

‘We love it when people paint a colourful portrait of our native town, London - one that makes us stop, look and listen, and think a little bit more about our surroundings. Canadian author and playwright Craig Taylor, has done just that, collating all his observations and conversations into a very colourful book for us to read - complete with London underground lines adorning the front cover. It's a collection of voices and opinions - so that every page appears to zing with noise, turning our beloved city into a living, breathing organism’

‘It is my pleasure to publish these extracts from Craig Taylor's fascinating new book published by Granta - Londoners: The Days and Nights of London Now - As Told by Those Who Love it, Hate it, Live it, Left It & Long For It - collecting together the myriad voices of the metropolis to create a panoramic oral history of contemporary London’

‘A fascinating picture of twenty first Century London and is a must for those who already live here, have lived here and would like to live here’

‘Group portrait of our capital city told in the words of 80 residents from diverse walks of life’ Caroline Sanderson

‘An innovative new oral history of the capital ... It reveals the city, not through the clichés of famous sights or its long history, but through the voices of ordinary people who live and work in London now’

‘'An epic portrait in eighty voices that shows the city to be just as ... well ... Dickensian as it has ever been’ David Nicholls

‘Offers an alternative portrait of London today’

‘I am crazy about Craig Taylor's Londoners, a brilliant collection of "voices" in the manner of Studs Terkel. It's quite long, but I wanted it to go on and on, and I can't imagine any lucky recipient not enjoying it’ Diana Athill

Londoners must be 2011's most ambitious and creative book about London ... Paramedics, funeral directors, anglers and homeless people all vie to tell their stories, resembling the cast of flamboyant characters in a Dickens novel ... This is a book to deepen your relationship with London and make you fall in - or out - of love with it all over again, depending on whether you see glamour or squalor predominating in the kaleidoscope of the city. I can't tell you how much I enjoyed it’ Lucy Worsley

‘Often reading like short stories, the 80 interviews in Craig Taylor's Londoners are engrossing. Full of details - "mind the gap" will never sound the same to tube travellers again - full of life and memorable people, they evince great dedication and generosity’ Will Hobson

‘Funny and moving in equal measure, this books lengthy subtitle alludes to the sociological spectrum it covers. If you are looking for a gift for anyone who falls into any one of these categories, this beautiful book will be just the ticket’ Sara Montgomery, head of Guardian Books

‘[An] excellent new book. It's a compendium of interviews with people who have made London their home, from dominatrix to taxi-driver, grief-counsellor to asylum-seeker’ Richard Godwin

‘We should give a heavy pat on the back to Craig Taylor for Londoners. This collection of monologues directs the spotlight at ordinary citizens, from all classes and all walks of life, and lets them express their loves, hates, troubles, complexes, hopes and ambitions’

‘It's genius’

‘It is a book that is quite easy to relate to if you live in London yourself and therefore a fantastic read for the daily commute’

‘I loved Taylor's style of interviewing letting people chat and obviously editing it into little nuggets and gems ... Craig has done for modern London what the mass observation project did in the second world war ,captured it like a fly in amber for all time’

‘A reader does not have to be a Londoner to enjoy the book, but only someone who is fascinated by people ... This book must be read from end to end, and I would bet that anyone who does that will, like me, wish it was longer. To those two famous masters of oral history, Studs Terkel and Roland Blythe, we must now add the name of Craig Taylor’ Diana Athill

‘A snapshot of life in modern London from the perspectives of the ordinary people who live there, Taylor's five-year project reveals some of the most beautiful and dark secrets of the city’

‘Taylor's critically acclaimed tome is a bravura piece of editing, a selection of the over 200 interviews the writer conducted over five years with the broadest range of Londoners imaginable, from a manicurist and market trader to a barrister and hedge fund manager. His interviews focus on very individual experiences of the city, covering both its extremes and intimate aspects’ Tim Woodall

‘If you're looking for a wonderful book about London and Londoners, I can highly recommend Craig Taylor's Londoners which was published by Granta towards the end of last year. It is destined to be a classic tome about our beloved city’

‘Taylor's book is like a gigantic camera, spewing out hundreds of snapshots to provide a panoramic vision ... it is electrifying ... The eloquence of the voices in this book - from marriage registrars to the London Underground's lost property clerk, to a Ugandan asylum seeker - is remarkable. Not because they speak the Queen's English (they clearly don't) but because they reveal a world you know, and yet don't know at all ... The enchanting thing about Londoners is that it turns statistics into people. With most political books it's the other way round ... I feel I almost learned more about Londoners from this book than from being a Londoner for more than four decades’ Oona King

‘A memorable, funny and occasionally melancholy collection of mini-monologues by London's inhabitants ... Taylor's book is at its best in such moments when the personality of his Londoners shines through their words ... Londoners weaves together the words of its 80-odd witnesses into a rich and satisfying tapestry of city life’ Nick Rennison

‘The product of five years-worth of interviews, every single one of the beautifully bound and jacketed 450 pages in Londoners is abuzz with the life and spirit of the capital city right now ... we salute this brilliant book’

‘A rich and exuberant kaleidoscopic portrait of a great, messy, noisy, daunting, inspiring, maddening, enthralling, constantly shifting Rorschach test of a place ... though countless excellent books have been written on the city, this is the one that best captures what it's like to live in London right now, through the words of the people themselves’ Sarah Lyall

‘It's the thoughtfulness of Taylor's character studies that make this book ... There is plenty of London flavour ... But one gets the feeling that if Taylor lived elsewhere, he may have penned an equally impressive book. For it's not the city that makes the people, he suggests, but the people that make the city’ Andrej Lukowski

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