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Joe Bedford

A Bad Decade for Good People

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A fiercely hopeful novel about family, sexuality, grief and how we as individuals can rediscover our political agency in the face of continued uncertainty.

Brighton, 2016. Laurie wears the scar given to her by a policeman’s baton as a mark of pride among her circle of bright young activists. Her conscionable but sensitive brother George should be a part of that circle, until the appearance of enigmatic Spanish migrant Antonio threatens to divert him from his sister’s world of marches and moral accountability.

As the clouds gather over Brighton and the EU referendum accelerates both Laurie’s political zeal and Antonio’s ambiguous desires, George is faced with the fact that their city of parties and protests is suddenly a place where the possibility of saving the world – as well as the people around him – is in jeopardy of being lost forever.

At once a letter of support to everyone disillusioned by British politics, and a deeply perceptive snapshot of modern relationships, A Bad Decade for Good People is a captivating state-of-the-nation tale that begs the question: when it feels like the world is falling apart, how do you keep those you love from doing the same?

“An ambitious state-of-the-nation debut that meaningfully fuses the personal and the political to great effect” – Helen Cullen, author of The Truth Must Dazzle Gradually

"A beautifully observed portrayal of the spirit of Brighton in the second decade of the 21st century" – Allie Rogers, author of Little Gold

'An ode to grief and sibling love from a great new voice writing about our messy and uncertain times.' Kit de Waal, author of My Name Is Leon and Without Warning & Only Sometimes

'A beautifully layered story about the complexity of relationships, political and sexual identity, loss, activism, familial love, being European, Brexit chaos and living in Brighton. Poignant, astute and hopeful.' Sharon Duggal, author of Should We Fall Behind (a BBC Two Between the Covers Book Club Choice)

'Bedford achieves a rare feat with this novel: he writes about disappointment in a way that is highly compelling. A Bad Decade for Good People is a fascinating exploration of political hope, friendship, difficulty, infatuation, and unrequited desire.' Naomi Booth, author of Exit Management and Sealed

‘This captivating novel is a reminder that love, coupled with courage, just might conquer all.’ Heidi James, author of The Sound Mirror

'Deeply, profoundly human, while at the same time precisely capturing the essence of a time and a place, A Bad Decade for Good People is one of those books which genuinely seems to fabricate a whole world. In prose that is subtle, deft and unobtrusive Joe Bedford’s debut leaves the reader heartsore in exactly the right ways.' Will Burns, author of The Paper Lantern and Country Music

'Bursting with the life and colour of Brighton and tenanted with its vivid eccentrics and revolutionaries, this deeply empathetic study of the strengths (and weaknesses) of humanity is an unforgettable and stirring experience. An important debut.' Alice Ash, author of Paradise Block

'It’s really compelling. 2016 – clouds gather; we’re in Brighton. It’s at once psychologically thrilling and fast-paced with a meditative heart: what can we tolerate, how can we love?' Anna Vaught, author of Saving Lucia and These Envoys of Beauty

'A serious take on youthful idealism crashing into the hard reality of a world repeating past mistakes, A Bad Decade for Good People explores what happens to the collective when its individuals begin to flounder. It will resonate with a large, bruised section of the population still fighting for a better future.' Glen James Brown, Portico Prize- and Orwell Prize-shortlisted author of Ironopolis

"The novel takes in political unrest, the EU referendum, the scars we bear (whether as a mark of pride or trauma) and the fight for justice both at home and abroad, while reckoning with the politics of identity and the self... A Bad Decade For Good People is perceptive and empathetic in its quest for hope and joy." – Joshua Jones, Buzz Magazine


Joe Bedford is an award-winning author from Doncaster, UK. His short fiction has been published widely, appearing in Litro, Structo, MIR Online and elsewhere, as well as being featured in several anthologies including The Brighton Prize Anthology. Over the past ten years, he has been longlisted and shortlisted for numerous awards, including the Commonwealth Short Story Prize, while being highly commended for the Manchester Fiction Prize and awarded first prize for Waterstones’ sophomore Write and Raise competition. He has an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University, and is currently undertaking a fully funded PhD studentship at the University of Leicester. A complete history of his publications and awards, with links to published stories, is available at joebedford.co.uk. A Bad Decade for Good People is his debut novel.