fiction

Keep the aspidistra flying - George Orwell

Not wanting to be concerned with money or a safe life typified by a house with an aspidistra plant, a copywriter quits his job to become an artist.

Hangover Square - Patrick Hamilton

Late 30s novel following George Harvey Bone and his similarly unemployed feckless acquaintances in and out of Earl's Court pubs, with war and changing attitudes looming.

Animal Farm, a fairy story - George Orwell

Erroneously considered a damning of collectivism, Orwell's allegorical fantasy is a critique of the Bolshevist and Stalinist regimes set on a farm as animals attempt to create a society.

1984 - George Orwell

A world with constant surveillance, perpetual war and a militarised police state, George Orwell's most famous novel was a warning against totalitarian governments, all the more relevant now then when it was written.

Q - Luther Blissett

Set in the time of tremendous religious and political upheaval caused by the Reformation in Europe, Q begins with Luther nailing his 95 theses on the door of the Wittenberg cathedral -- a historical flash point which would completely disrupt European society. The novel traces the adventures and conflicts of two central characters as they travel across Germany, Italy and the Netherlands. One is an Anabaptist, a member of the most radical Protestant sect. These are the anarchists of the Reformation who revolted against Catholicism and the emerging Reformation church. The other is a Catholic spy and informer.

Pyrate Captain Mission - Larry Law

A short fictional pocketbook about the pirate Captain Mission, by Situationist Larry Law.

The ragged trousered philanthropists - Robert Tressell

A Marxist critique of society dressed up as a novel, Ragged Trousered Philanthrophists follows construction worker Frank Owen trying to convince others about socialism, a figure based on Tressell himself. He would face rejection and death before his work was published, but when it was it found instant popularity amongst UK workers.

Rivethead - Ben Hamper

Down and out memoirs of a line assembly worker for GM Motors over the 1980s. In amongst co-workers going postal in the local bar, drinking on the job and witnessing mental breakdowns, Hamper wrote the book during his shifts on the shop floor.

Factotum - Charles Bukowski

The only person to have made a writing career about yo-yoing in and out of employment, Bukowski accounts the conditions in 1944 having faced rejection from the draft. Although racist, incredibly misogynistic and generally prejudiced to anyone including himself, this is an honest look at the tedium of work.

A fan's notes - Frederick Exley

A struggling alcoholic teacher reminiscences about a life of mental hospitals, failed job interviews and the feeling of being out of step with the American dream.