What I did to them was terrible, but you have to understand the context. This was London, 2016...
Bohemia is history. Paul has awoken to the fact that he will always be better known for reviewing haircuts than for his literary journalism. He is about to be kicked out of his cheap flat in east London and his sister has gone missing after an argument about what to do with the house where they grew up. Now that their mother is dead this is the last link they have to the declining town on the north-west coast where they grew up.
Enter Emily Nardini, a cult author, who – after granting Paul a rare interview – receives him into her surprisingly grand home. Paul is immediately intrigued: by Emily and her fictions, by her vexingly famous and successful partner Andrew (too old for her by half), and later by Andrew’s daughter Sophie, a journalist whose sexed-up vision of the revolution has gone viral. Increasingly obsessed, relationships under strain, Paul travels up and down, north and south, torn between the town he thought he had escaped and the city that threatens to chew him up.
With heart, bite and humour, Luke Brown leads the reader beyond easy partisanism and into much trickier terrain. Straddling the fissures within a man and his country, riven by envy, wealth, ownership, entitlement, and loss, Theft is an exhilarating howl of a novel.
"Luke Brown’s Theft is acerbic but tender, biting but elegiac, a snapshot of early twenty-first century life in which the unceasing prospect of catastrophe is the new normal." —Colin Barrett
"It's a rare thrill to find a writer with Luke Brown's gift for nimbly navigating the maze of gentrification, Brexit, and the gig economy with dark, effervescent hilarity. Theft is a funhouse mirror held up to the grim absurdity of our political moment, a quick-witted tale of generational crisis, and an incredibly poignant and funny take on what happens after bad turns to worse." —Alexandra Kleeman
"A raw, funny, surprisingly tender novel about belonging, class, and what makes a life a success. I loved the central brother/sister relationship and how the book confronted masculinity and the disparity between womanhood and the male experience. I grew so fond of the protagonist and devoured the book in a day." —Dolly Alderton
"I love Luke Brown’s intimate detailing of both the tiny fault lines and vast chasms that divide us. This Britain is both utterly recognisable and freshly revealed and the writing assured, funny and always humane." —Catherine O'Flynn
"It’s rare to read something as cuttingly funny which is also this wise and humane, even while the plot moves like the twist of a knife. What do we choose? What’s already been chosen for us? In creating a protagonist and a scene so specific and forensically well-observed, Brown delivers a state of the nation / state of masculinity novel with the ebullience and momentum of a writer discovering his true and specific powers." —Luke Kennard
"Theft is a witty, tender and insightful portrait of a city, and a life, at a time of crisis. It’s engrossing and charming and made me laugh many, many times." —Nicole Flattery
"Astute and funny." —Lucy Knight, Sunday Times
"A moral novel about a crisis in masculinity [. . . a] funny, stylishly and unfrivolously written book." —Jonathan MacAloon, Financial Times
"A story of radical instability . . . handled with poise, precision, brio and a bracing lack of sentimentality."— Matthew Adams, The Observer
"A black comedy of sexualised class war . . . refreshingly nuanced." —Houman Barekat, The Guardian
“A caustically funny, scalpel-sharp satire about a young man trying to get ahead, and a foothold, in a rapidly changing London and a recently divided Britain . . . Brown covers a lot of bases — property markets, sexual politics, youthful hedonism and the war of attrition that is Brexit — but at the heart of this bittersweet novel is a tender, perfectly realized human drama.” —Malcolm Forbes, Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
"An emotionally complex story of grief, desire, and Brexit . . . With bleak humor and sharp details, Brown memorably connects the personal and the political."—Kirkus Reviews
“Brown’s clever U.S. debut examines the challenges of contemporary life in London […] This tragicomedy successfully captures the feeling of what it’s like to yearn for a stable home, career, and love today.” —Publishers Weekly
"Theft is a clever book about a clever man . . . But moments of sincere tenderness . . . show us the unvarnished, slightly lost, charming man beneath the surface." —Claire Looby, Irish Times
"While Theft ruminates on cultural fault lines, property and decline, it is never clunky or dour. [Brown’s] prose is brisk, unpretentious and witty . . . There is a lot to enjoy about the interplay of Theft’s mischievous, promiscuous, furious cast members, and how they come to exemplify an age." —James Riding, Literary Review
"Theft is brilliant on divisions between people and places, tribalism and the death of debate . . . I raced through it." —Sara Lawrence, Daily Mail
"An exhilarating novel about love, envy and revenge that, while always being a lot of fun, gives us a new perspective on the state of our divided, riven modern world." —Irish Times
"Theft is a return to the decadent literary London of his hilarious debut My Biggest Lie." —Suzi Feay, Financial Times