Referring to What a Carve Up! (1994), Coe remembers that his decision to open himself up to ‘the idea of writing a socially panoramic story was incredibly liberating’ (2011). A social and political satire, the novel focuses on the Thatcher era of the 1980s, marked by the triumph of materialism and free enterprise, and the disavowal of community and social welfare. In an article devoted to the ‘fondness and predilection of Britain for state of the nation writing’, Coe pointed out that What a Carve Up! had been ‘written as a response to the seismic changes in British political culture during the 1980s’ (2013d). He was ‘flushed with political and literary certainties’ at the time and the most fixed of these certainties was his anti-Thatcherism (2013d). Coe explains that he used the upper-class Winshaw family as a ‘metaphor for the British ruling elite, whether they were involved in politics, finance, food production, culture or any other area of national life’ (Blog, What a Carve Up!). His undertaking echoes the work of film director Lindsay Anderson who, in If… (1968), depicted a rebellion in a boarding school to offer an anarchic vision of Britain in the late 1960s and in Britannia Hospital (1982) used the institution of a hospital as ‘a metaphor for the whole of British society as it stood on the threshold of the Thatcher revolution in the early 1980s’ (Coe, 2013d).
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