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In the early twenty-first century, “Englishness” suddenly became a hot topic. A rash of art exhibitions, pop albums and coffee table books arrived on the scene, all desperate to recover England’s lost national soul. But when we sweep away the patriotic stereotypes, we begin to see that England is a country that does not — and perhaps should not — exist in any essential sense.
In this provocative text combining polemic and memoir, Alex Niven argues that the map of the British Isles should be torn apart completely as we look towards a time of radical political reform. Rejecting outdated nationalisms, Niven argues for a renovated model of culture and governance for the islands — a fluid, dynamic version of regionalism preparing the way for a new “dream archipelago”.
Alex Niven’s books include Folk Opposition, Definitely Maybe 33 1/3 and New Model Island. He is Lecturer in English at Newcastle University, and his writing has appeared in the Guardian, Pitchfork, the Independent and LA Review of Books.
“Looking for a new England? Alex Niven draws on our diverse identities to forge a radical vision of a once and future land.”
“One of the sharpest, most unusual critics writing today, and with this call for the end of England, he has surpassed himself. Personal, polemical and historical in equal measure, this is a strange, powerful and beautiful book.”
“An urgent and heartfelt instruction to dig over and reseed the soil of England, so that something more substantial might grow.”
“By reminding us that community is sustained not by rhetoric but by material infrastructure, Niven issues a brave and timely rejoinder to those who would have us believe it can be magicked into being by platitudes and flag-waving.”