Kaya Genç on the demonization of the working class:
As workers are losing their class identity and their voices, British writers are losing something equally precious: a thorough interest in the lives of the underprivileged. British novelists in recent decades have been less interested in the poor and working class than their Victorian ancestors: Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Gaskell, Thomas Hardy, and others. Many British journalists are not doing any better: they have nicknamed workers “chavs”; the widespread mistreatment of the poor in the press has become a crucial part of their overall subjectification.
When I visited London on a rainy day last summer, I took shelter in the world’s largest Waterstone’s, located on Piccadilly street. The long list of the Man Booker prize had just been announced and the entrance floor was decorated with piles of beautifully designed books. But it was Owen Jones’s first book, Chavs, with the rather unsophisticated image of a Burberry cap on its white cover, that won me over. Jones was giving a talk that week, and given the way people were discussing him, it seemed he was, at 27 years old, the new Dickens in town.