Luke Brown


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 partisanship 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.

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Paperback: £11.99
Ebook: £6.99

About the Book

  • If you subscribed to And Other Stories before 31 July 2019, you will have received your copy of Theft – in which all subscribers are thanked by name – in November, before its official publication, as well us up to five other And Other Stories titles per year. Find out more about our subscriptions.
Print status: Available
Author: Luke Brown
Original language: English
Format: B-Format Paperback with Flaps
Publication date (UK): 4 February 2020
Publication date (US): 7 April 2020
ISBN: 9781911508588
Ebook ISBN: 9781911508595
Availability: World English
Number of pages: 320


Dolly Alderton

‘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.’

Alexandra Kleeman

‘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.’

Colin Barrett

‘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.’

Nicole Flattery

Theft is a witty, tender and insightful portrait of a city, and a life, at at time of crisis. It’s engrossing and charming and made me laugh many, many times.’

Catherine O'Flynn

‘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.’

Luke Kennard

‘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.’

Lucy Knight
Sunday Times

‘Astute and funny.’

Jonathan MacAloon
Financial Times

‘A moral novel about a crisis in masculinity [. . . a] funny, stylishly and unfrivolously written book.’

Matthew Adams
The Observer

‘A story of radical instability . . . handled with poise, precision, brio and a bracing lack of sentimentality.’

Houman Barekat
The Guardian

'A black comedy of sexualised class war . . . refreshingly nuanced.'

Ella Cory-Wright
The Telegraph

'A frequently-hilarious meditation on class, and loss . . . Brown is an exceptionally stylish writer . . . The dialogue is crisp and true-to-life, the description intuitive. Every joke lands.'    

Claire Looby
Irish Times

'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.'  

James Riding
Literary Review

‘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.’

Sara Lawrence
Daily Mail 

‘Theft is brilliant on divisions between people and places, tribalism and the death of debate . . . I raced through it.’

Irish Times

'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.'

Suzi Feay
Financial Times

'Theft is a return to the decadent literary London of his hilarious debut My Biggest Lie.'

Kirkus Reviews

'An emotionally complex story of grief, desire, and Brexit . . . With bleak humor and sharp details, Brown memorably connects the personal and the political.'

Malcolm Forbes
Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

‘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.’  

Publishers Weekly

‘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.’  

Booksellers on Theft

‘This isn't a short book, and I haven't been a very quick reader lately, but I simply couldn't get enough, and finished it in two days (two work days, on top of that). Weird and funny and satirical and sarcastic and tender and frustrated, it's narrated by a poor bookseller in London from a working-class northern town as he maneuvers daily life in the city and becomes infatuated with a young writer and increasingly drawn into an odd web of entanglements with her pundit partner and his rich communist daughter. There's some kind of big, generation-defining feeling to this novel, playing out and enacting many of our modern anxieties without pretending to have any answers, but rather leaving us with a complex, fragmentary, endlessly polyphonic stream of voices and perspectives, all wrapped-up in its compulsively readable narrator.’ Jacob Rogers, McNally Jackson

Praise for My Biggest Lie

‘A real page-tuner. Deeply sensual.’ Gary Shteyngart
‘I grabbed this for its mad adventure but came away with a gift for the heart.’ DBC Pierre
‘Brown's novel captures the sun-soaked sexiness of the city . . .  and the hazy drug that is desire better than anything I have read in years.’  The Guardian
‘Rewarding and ambitious.’ Times Literary Supplement
‘An unashamedly literary novel that nonetheless wears its learning lightly and is totally unpretentious: a ludic, drunk, dizzying jaunt.’ Dazed & Confused
‘A scintillating, intelligent and uproariously funny trip into the excesses of storytelling’ Big Issue
‘Smart, zingy and extremely funny, this is a real treat.’ Paul Murray
‘It’s warmth and tenderness are hard to resist.’ Catherine O’Flynn