Blog post

New York Times announces a British class war, with Chavs as the manifesto

Phan Nguyen14 July 2011

Under a headline stating that “a British class war is raging,” the New York Times recently published a glowing review of Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class, accompanied by a lengthy excerpt from the same book.

Reviewer Dwight Garner describes author Owen Jones as “hideously talented”:

Reading Chavs, I often cursed aloud as if I’d banged my thumb with a mallet, which is how I express keen literary pleasure until I can arrive at something more coherent to say.

Thus is Garner’s response to Jones’s “intoxicating” combination of “wit and outrage,” as Jones traces the lineage of elitist contempt for the British working class.

Garner comes close to declaring Chavs “a rippling, rock-hard classic … the book you’d see peeking out of every college student’s back pocket and rucksack during the summer of 2011.” But his ultimate approbation is more sublime, consigning Chavs to the status of “something to behold, a work of passion, sympathy and moral grace.”

Visit the New York Times to read the review in full, along with a lengthy excerpt from Chavs.

Filed under: excerpts, reviews