John Lanchester

John Lanchester is a contributing editor at the LRB. His most recent book is Reality and Other Stories.

He-Said, They-Said: Crypto Corruption

John Lanchester, 2 November 2023

It’s​ a 19th-century story; it’s a 21st-century story. The process takes a decade and a bit. A philosophical idea starts in Oxford, spreads rapidly, finds a believer who becomes famous and grows in fame with him, thrives despite loud criticism, and then undergoes a huge scandal as the famous person does something which confirms the charges the movement’s detractors have...

Get a rabbit: Don’t trust the numbers

John Lanchester, 21 September 2023

At a dinner​ with the American ambassador in 2007, Li Keqiang, future premier of China, said that when he wanted to know what was happening to the country’s economy, he looked at the numbers for electricity use, rail cargo and bank lending. There was no point using the official GDP statistics, Li said, because they are ‘man-made’. That remark, which we know about thanks to...

Picture​ the following age-old scene: a writer sitting at a kitchen table, pretending to work. Set it forty years ago. The Conservatives are in power and everything is broken, but our subject is the writer’s stuff. On the table is a typewriter; to one side is a radio, to another is a phone; also in the room are a fridge, an oven, a hob, a toaster, a set of car keys and a vacuum cleaner....

Short Cuts: Inside the Thatcher Larp

John Lanchester, 20 October 2022

Larping, or live action role play, is a hobby in which people dress up as their preferred fantasy object – elves, goblins, Cavaliers v. Roundheads, Confederates v. Unionists, aliens, victims of a zombie apocalypse, intergalactic adventurers, und so weiter – and collectively participate in a shared imaginative world. The biggest Larps go on for days and involve thousands of...


John Lanchester, 4 August 2022

Outsiders never get to locate the exact point a legitimate business crosses the line and starts cheating. That’s a pity, because it would be interesting to know what’s running through the mind of a Bernie Madoff or an Elizabeth Holmes on the first occasion they see the moral fork in the road, face the reality of their actions, and make the wrong choice. Or maybe what happens is an ethical blur, a rush and press of business, in which what feels like a temporary, fixable expediency, a white lie, over time and in retrospect calcifies into a mistake that can’t be undone, a life-defining crime.

Hong Pong: John Lanchester

Thomas Jones, 25 July 2002

First, let me declare a disinterest. John Lanchester and I are both involved, in different ways, with the London Review of Books, but otherwise have nothing to do with one another. Now...

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On the Run: John Lanchester

Adam Phillips, 2 March 2000

The name is ordinary, so the book announces itself as a book about no one special; though, of course, when men without qualities become the subjects of novels a certain gravity (if not grace) is...

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