Aifric Campbell's novel, ON THE FLOOR, is inspired by her years working on the trading floor at Morgan Stanley and was longlisted for the ORANGE PRIZE. ON THE FLOOR "plunges straight into the financial world's heart of darkness" LA Times. It tells the story of Geri Molloy, the "skirt amongst men," a banker with a rare mathematical gift whose successful career is hurtling towards potential disaster. Aifric became the first female Managing Director on Morgan Stanley's London trading floor. Previous novels: THE SEMANTICS OF MURDER, based on the unsolved murder of a mathematician at UCLA and THE LOSS ADJUSTOR - the story of a young woman haunted by childhood tragedy. Aifric was born in Ireland and lives in the UK. She holds a PhD from University of East Anglia and teaches at Imperial College, London. Click on the short video to hear about the new novel she is writing in Sep 2013. Follow www.aifriccampbell.com / l acebook Page / Twitte
Geri Molloy, the central character in Aifric Campbell's "On The Floor" may be earning a six figure salary working at a London investment bank just prior to the outbreak of the 1991 invasion of Kuwait, but she's seriously messed up. Drinking heavily, sleeping lightly and mourning the end of a relationship, she may be a mathematical genius with a direct line to a mysterious Hong Kong-based hedge fund manager with whom she trades, but her life is increasingly being controlled by other people.
The City setting of the book potentially sets two challenges. Firstly the workings of the City can be complex and difficult to understand and writers have to steer a path between over-simplification and downright unnecessary confusion. As Campbell has one of her characters recognize, even those involved didn't necessarily understand what they were doing which leads to the second pitfall which is more difficult: the public's response to the City post financial crash. At the time that this book is set, we were still in the grip of the "Wall Street" glamour with Gordon Gekko's mantra of "greed is good" and "lunch is for wimps" ringing in our ears. Today the financial world is seen in a very different light. Both of these challenges are largely dispelled by the fact that Campbell herself spent 13 years working as an investment banker and so knows what she's talking about. Who better to tell it like it was?
Campbell doesn't over-glamorize the life, but neither does she jump on the band-wagon of slating the City. Focussing on a lost individual and making it a personal story, she uses the financial world to give pace to the story while revealing the difficulties of being a female in that macho world.Read more ›
I read the Amazon book reviews to try to predict whether I will like the book. In general I've found the Amazon reviews far more useful than the New York Times book reviews.
Will you like this book? If you have no interest in finance you may not. Aifric Campbell has done a good job of making the book accessible and she keeps finance to the background. But the world of the "sell side" investment bank is a constant backdrop to the story. I do have a strong interest in finance (and some knowledge about it), so the backdrop of finance was what attracted me to the book.
On the Floor is a novel with many layers. Non-fiction books like Street Freak, The Buy Side and the classic Liar's Poker provide interesting pictures of trading for an investment bank. But few of them delve as deeply into the costs and compromises that this world can require. On the Floor extends this to the costs and compromises that we sometimes make for love.
Aifric Campbell was a floor trader for Morgan Stanley for 13 years. A floor trader trades directly with the investment banks clients, buying and selling positions in financial assets. Floor traders work on trading floors, which have historically been cavernous spaces with clusters of traders ("desks") who concentrate on a specific asset, like Japanese convertible bonds or US stocks. Successful floor traders develop relationships with "buy side" investment funds.Read more ›
Aifric Campbell presents readers with a very interesting and complex female protagonist, Geri Molloy, in a novel titled, On the Floor. Molloy works in London for an investment bank, and the action of the novel is set in 1991 before the invasion of Kuwait. She's a moneymaker for the firm because a reclusive Hong Kong hedge fund manager chose her as the person with whom he demanded to do business with at that investment bank. Molloy is drinking too much, sleeping too little, and grieving the loss of a relationship. She excels at math and in preserving her independence. At age twenty eight, she needs to come to grips with what is important in life. Readers who enjoy coming of age stories, strong female protagonists, and financial services are those most likely to enjoy reading this fine novel.
I'm surprised there are only 2 reviews for this book! Ripple's review lays out many of my thoughts about the book, especially the plot twist near the end that is far from believable and seems out of tone with the rest of the story. Overall, though, I really enjoyed this story of a young, hotshot female trader and the challenges she faces (even when I didn't understand it!).
Reading about the confusing world of the stock exchange was tough enough, but throw in British terms and slang, and I was worried I'd be totally at sea. But even when I didn't fully understand details, Campbell did a great job of conveying the hectic pace of the trading floor and the insanity of a lifestyle where everything is measured in seconds and you get sent to Hong Kong at the drop of a hat.
Probably any ambitious working woman can relate to the main character's life as she powers through on guts while feeling that she's about to be exposed as a fraud. As the novel goes on, her life, which initially seems so charmed, begins to crumble.
This is one of those novels that left me feeling a little dumb (especially since I'm not totally sure what the very last paragraph meant!) but its memorable prose left a mark on me and I won't forget this character.