My 2003 novel Foxy-T is now available in ebook for the first time.
I gave a talk about the novel at Whitechapel Idea Store in 2013, at an event marking the 10th anniversary of publication. You can read an edited transcript of that talk on the Faber website.
The catalyst for the novel – though I didn’t know it yet – was the closure of the area’s only minicab office: the former Megna Cars on Cannon Street Road, just around the corner from where I lived at the time. Then, even more than ever, the East End was in a state of flux, and it was impossible to tell whether this now-empty shop and the flat above it might become a garment factory or a high-spec commercial art gallery. Two extremes, perhaps, but either was just as likely. Or maybe it would become an internet shop. If it were the latter, in those pre-broadband days, it would save me walking up to the one that had recently opened on Whitechapel High Street.
It sounds almost incredible now, but at that time it was still only a few years since the internet café had been invented, with the opening of Cyberia in London in 1994. In the intervening period, the slightly humbler internet shop, or internet and international telephone call shop, had become ubiquitous in the poorer and the more transient areas of probably most cities of the world, and yet I couldn’t think of a novel that was set in one.
ICYMI here’s some of the press the novel has received over the years:
…this affectionate tale may tell you more about love, longing and ambition in the inner city than a dozen official reports. Indeed, some readers would argue that it captures the flavour of Asian lives in London E1 with more inside-track relish than another novel of 2003: Monica Ali’s Brick Lane. Boyd Tonkin, Independent
There have been a few East London books — Manzu Islam’s Burrow, Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses, Farrukh Dhondy’s East End At Your Feet, there’s Claire Alexander’s sociological The Asian Gang; and there are more laddist, wide-boy fictions around — Londonstani, of course (though that’s about Hounslow) […] The book I like best is Tony White’s Foxy-T. Ventriloquism among the Cannon Street xeroxing machines, innit? Sukhdev Sandhu, 3am
“What’s your favourite British novel from the past ten years?” The other day I was with a group of friends, and someone posed this question. A few fairly obvious titles were suggested, which gave me time to think. And when it came my turn to speak, I said, “Foxy T by Tony White”. Toby Litt, The Guardian
In Foxy-T he excels himself. […] With vivid economy White describes young Bangladeshis’ domestic, business and street life in intelligent, beautifully sustained prose. Coherent and compelling, the novel has a wonderful, if slightly tricky, denouement which made me grin with surprised admiration. Rejecting familiar influences of the past 20 years, White joins a handful of contemporary writers who are proving that the novel has never been more alive. He is a serious, engaging voice of the modern city. Michael Moorcock, The Guardian
This is, in fact, the best book that has ever been written about Brick Lane […] it is based around two girls who work in a telephone and computer place off Cannon Street Road, the E-Z Call phone shop. There are all these dubious characters coming in who are out of young offenders institutes or whatever, people from the Bangladeshi community, and it’s really about the progress of these two girls, and the whole book is written in Bangladeshi idiom. It takes a while to get into, but then you do get into it and it’s an amazing tour de force. Roy Moxham, ‘Five Books’, The Browser