What the critics have said about This Bleeding City

“Thirty-two-year-old Alex Preston’s debut novel was not the only tale about the collapse of the global financial system, but it is surely the best… Not since Bright Lights, Big City or Less Than Zero has a debut had such impact and captured the moment more succinctly.”


“Alex Preston… is to be commended for offering us This Bleeding City, a novel that tells us a few warm emotional truths behind a cold news story, the human tale of how it can all go wrong… The angry rants to be found in recent works that deal with the financial crisis (such as… Ben Elton’s Meltdown and… Sebastian Faulks’s A Week In December) don’t tell the human story anywhere near as well as Preston does… The book… is enjoyable and worth reading for the narrative drive. Preston’s style is both spare and rich, brutal and deft. He conjures exquisitely desolated cityscapes, populated by hollowed-out citizens who feel like they’re escapees from an Edward Hopper painting. May he continue to shine a light on the giant, scary engine that is modern capitalism.”

Financial Times

“The best thing about Alex Preston’s impressive first novel is its wonderfully lucid and compelling telling of the collapse of the markets. Preston was a bond trader but, happily, he’s far more concerned with bringing emotional sense to the crash than elucidating financial intricacies… Preston depicts the impending financial crash with a wonderfully sickening inexorability, bringing a heightened consonance to a real-life catastrophic mess…One of Preston’s favourite writers is F Scott Fitzgerald and that influence is favourably apparent in the novel’s elegiac tone – there is much lost here, the least of which is money.”

The Observer

This Bleeding City, about a naive and greedy graduate sucked into the world of high finance, is so horribly authentic it might just be the definitive novel of the credit crisis… You don’t need an FT subscription to understand and enjoy the book. Aside from the enduring themes of greed and hubris, it’s also a love story, detailing the emotional repercussions of the crash and the motivations of those involved.”

The Word

“Paying homage to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s story of an earlier economic crash, Babylon Revisited (1940), debut novelist and former city trader Alex Preston names his narrator, Charlie Wales, after Fitzgerald’s anti-hero… This is a smartly written portrait of youthful insecurities and timeless folly.”

The Independent

“For those of us who don’t know our derivatives from our sub-primes, Preston’s rendering of the arcane world of high finance makes gripping reading, and affords disturbing insights into the way in which the market is driven by greed, ego and an excess of adrenaline… This novel is a fascinating portrayal of a generation of bright young things who believed they could put their consciences on hold, get rich quick and retire at the age of thirty-five to resume fulfilling creative lives. We know how this fantasy ends.”

Literary Review

“Preston’s debut novel could inaugurate a whole genre dedicated to fiscal calamity… It is a tribute to Preston that he manages to pull off the considerable feat of arousing sympathy for Charlie… Preston’s style often impresses. Striking metaphors and acute observations are strewn through his pages… This is a novel of admirable ambition.”

The Independent

“Alex Preston, a 30 year-old year old trader and Oxford English graduate, has pulled off something undeniably magnetic with his first novel… It is intensely gripping – even upsetting – from the first, and if you still have the stomach for a tale about the despair that materialism can bring, then you will lap this novel up.”

City A.M.

“10 Must-Reads This Summer: Written by a 30-year-old London hedge fund manager, this is a love story and a moral tale — a story of materialism gone mad. It… is gripping and moving from the very first page.”

Business Standard (India)

“Preston offers a fascinating, often unsettling insight into the cloistered world of the City. Moving beyond easy cliché and popular prejudice, there’s an awareness of the psychology and emotions of a group of people rarely understood. Borrowing themes (and indeed the protagonist’s name) from an F Scott Fitzgerald short story, This Bleeding City is something of a modern-day morality tale encompassing greed, ambition and redemption.”

The Word

“Preston[‘s]… evocation of the panic and false rationalizations that engulf those in the middle of a plummeting market is convincing… For Preston’s characters, the suspense of morality, of doing the right thing, is of a piece with the suspense of reason. The rather frightening lesson of This Bleeding City is not that ruthless men and women gambled away more than a decade of prosperity in full knowledge of what they were doing. It is that they had no idea what they were doing.”

Times Literary Supplement

“A beautifully nuanced, sensitively described story … challenging, frightening, heartbreaking and brilliantly gripping – a fantastic novel from start to finish.”

Easy Living

“One of the most moving books I have read… This Bleeding City stands out from other credit crunch books.”

The Daily Gloss

“Learning about the world of high finance and its misogynist inhabitants was fascinating… [Preston] should be applauded for bringing to life a world that is generally only written about in terms of catastrophic but dry figures in news stories.”

The Spectator

“He writes beautifully with an effortless poetry evocative of London’s infinite sprawl … the narrative is compelling, tracing his complicated relationship with his best friends.”


“… the great unavoidable fact about this debut novel of the recent financial meltdown is that it’s written by a real insider … [this fact] gives it a rare golden ticket quality … long on heart and short on American Psycho-style satire, and has a brilliant, surprisingly horrible 1984-ish ending.”

Dazed and Confused

“It is in recording the undoing of the City and the ravages of the first major crash in years that Preston shines.”

New Statesman

“For fresh interpretations of the hedonistic inferno of the City, look out for Alex Preston’s debut novel This Bleeding City, a lurid, timely story about what happens to love in the morality-free zone of the Square Mile.”


“I never properly understood how the financial system collapsed until I read this compelling work.”


“…if one more person recommends Alex Preston’s This Bleeding City to me I’ll start to sniff a Senate-style conspiracy.”

Mariella Frostrup, Psychologies

“The novel’s love stories take several wrenching twists, drawing the reader into genuinely moving moments … the novel’s honesty about youth is valid … as is its exposure of a failed ideology … let’s keep an eye on this lad.”

Irish Examiner

“Preston makes the economics accessible, twinning material excess with extravagant prose… the novel’s real femme fatale, however, is the world of finance, with its high-octane thrills and whispered promises of riches.”

Hephzibah Anderson, Daily Mail

“The book… takes you into the heart of the madly-oscillating financial markets and into the minds and emotions of those who were involved with it. This Bleeding City is a human story full of pathos, with striking emotions and sharp observations about hopeless lives horribly skewed towards blatant materialism.”

Outlook India

“Preston has an undoubted storyteller’s instinct; This Bleeding City is consistently engaging and zips along at a decent crack.”

The Guardian

“The book wipes clear a steamy window into a small, panicked investment bank as all the tickers in London City turn red.”

Sunday Business Post

“Preston turns out to be a compelling storyteller: I was hooked right from the prologue and the pace kept up throughout. This Bleeding City is spot-on in its characterisation of a generation barred from self-fulfilment by its own materialism, as well as being an addictive read.”


“This excellent debut novel… goes far beyond the confines of the thriller genre, emerging as a work of complex, well-drawn characters and real emotional power… An unflinching depiction of the reality of life in the City and the dreams and nightmares that it can bring.”

Waterstone’s Books Quarterly

“The greatest feat debut novelist Alex Preston pulls is convincing us of Charlie’s vulnerability, making him more sympathetic than we’d ever give the average city boy credit for. This is a debut novel of promise, edgy and tense, sealing up a specific moment in our capital’s history up perfectly in a time capsule.”