Longlisted for the RSL Ondaatje Prize
“The best book about British politics I have read in some time” - John Harris
“A mordant, needle-sharp satire” - Jonathan Coe
"Furiously smart . . . both a rollicking farce of political exhaustion and social collapse, and a subtle investigation into the slippery, ever-evolving relationship between words and deeds." - The Guardian
"Dizzying . . . Crackling with zeitgeisty energy . . . Byers makes twisty entertainment out of a timely wake-up call about shiny new technologies and the age-old interests they serve." - The Observer
“A brilliant, twitchy satire on media manipulation, grievance, one-upmanship and online echo chambers [and] . . . a powerful, ingenious literary thriller about shame, privacy and the selling of online souls.” - Laura Freeman, The Sunday Times
"Full of satisfying zingers . . . Sharp and mordantly funny . . . Byers has a sharp sense of the way the wind is blowing; it’s a cold breeze indeed, and he directs it right down the reader’s neck." - New Statesman
"Scorching . . . Perfidious Albion is stuffed with diagnoses of internet culture's ills . . . But it is the novel's remarkable denouement that elevates it above state-of-the-nation satire. Byers has imagined an original and complete system of control that doesn't just restrict but altogether precludes any notion of freedom." - Literary Review
"Brimming with comic energy . . . This is a sharp, pacy and anxious book, made all the more unsettling by its close proximity to the now, its knack for collapsing the boundary between the absurd and the terrifying." - Irish Times
"Frighteningly plausible . . . Tightly structured and grippingly paced . . . Byers is proving himself a savvy, subtle chronicler of contemporary malaise. This is a timely, slickly calibrated novel, finely attuned to patterns of language and, although it takes everybody into its merciless sights, with a strongly moral centre." - The Financial Times
"Uncannily prescient . . . Byers mercilessly trains his stinging powers of observation on political, corporate and online absurdities . . . A smart, funny read that perfectly captures our emerging anxieties." - The Sunday Times
"Scintillating and timeous . . . The toxic nature of the virtual has rarely been more satisfyingly skewered . . . Byers' novel could hardly have greater resonance." - The Scotsman
“Brilliantly ironic, hilarious and profound.’ - (Joanna Kavenna, White Review 'Books of the Year')
Welcome to Edmundsbury, a small town in England, some time in the recent future . . .
Brexit has happened and is real. Fear and loathing are on the rise. Grass-roots right-wing political party England Always are fomenting hatred. The residents of a failing housing estate are being cleared from their homes. A multinational tech company is making inroads into the infrastructure. Just as the climate seems at its most pressured, masked men begin a series of 'disruptions', threatening to make internet histories public, asking the townspeople what don't you want to share? As tensions mount, lives begin to unravel.
Jess Ellis's research into internet misogyny pushes her relationship with her over-exposed opinion columnist boyfriend Robert Townsend to breaking point. Robert's championing of the inhabitants of the threatened estate begins to erode the edges of his fragile idealism. Local England Always politician Hugo Bennington finds his twisted loyalties catching up with him. At the nearby tech park, behind the utopian rhetoric, Trina James finds that something is dangerously amiss.
A controversial tweet; a series of ill-judged thinkpieces; a riot of opinions. Suddenly Edmundsbury is no longer the peaceful town it has always imagined itself to be. Things are changing. No-one is quite who they appear. The future has arrived, and it is not what anyone imagined.
Perfidious Albion is published by Faber & Faber in the UK
You can read the opening chapter for free at Granta
Cover Image by Emily Allchurch: ‘Babel Britain (after Verhaecht)' 2017