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On the Floor: A Novel Hardcover – June 25, 2013


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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Set in 1991, just before the Gulf War breaks out, Campbell’s debut follows a London investment banker who is virtually treading water. As a woman working in a male-dominated field at Steiner’s, a top investment firm, Geri Molly is forced to deal with boorish coworkers while coping with a break-up that has left her devastated. Steiner’s top client, enigmatic hedge fund manager Felix Mann, is putting pressure on Geri to move to Hong Kong and work for him full-time. When the higher-ups at her firm get wind of a rumor that a client is going to make a bid for a company in which Felix owns controlling shares, they summon Geri to find out what Felix’s intentions are. When she arrives in Hong Kong to meet with Felix, she runs into Stephen, throwing her into chaos and causing her to make a decision that jeopardizes her career. The novel is slow to get started and takes a decidedly bizarre turn towards the end, but readers will be gratified when Geri is finally jolted out of her malaise. --Kristine Huntley

Review

“Of all the contemporary heroines, Geri Molloy might be the most badass. Watch out, Lisbeth Salander.” —Marie Claire

“Even finance-phobic readers will find themselves drawn into the intrigue and high-stakes wheeling and dealing…. Campbell delivers a Back to the Future tour of a workplace long before Sheryl Sandberg was telling women how to lean in at the office.” —The Washington Post

On the Floor really finds its legs when Geri gets caught in the middle of [a] contentious takeover of a defense contractor, resulting in shifting loyalties and backstabbing intrigue. There's even an abduction thrown in to keep the pot boiling. It's much what you'd find in any Stephen Frey bestseller, and in truth, the guilty pleasures here come from embracing the utterly expected.” —Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal

“So intelligent and well written… [A] deftly handled meditation on how we create value and what it means to be a person in a world always in flux… [Campbell's] stock is sure to rise in the years to come.” —Mike Fischer, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

“The forces motivating Geri and her generation are the same ones that James Joyce—Campbell's compatriot and like her a former bank employee—identified almost a century before… [But] Campbell’s real achievement here is her heroine’s voice. Spirited, sardonic, wounded, [and] funny, Geri remains compelling… Campbell is a gifted storyteller, and possesses a rare insight into this secretive world.” —Paul Murray, Slate Book Review

On the Floor’s appeal is broad....It’s that rare work of fiction in which the financial world functions as more than a mere backdrop.”—Hephzibah Anderson, Bloomberg

“[On The Floor] plunges straight into the financial world’s heart of darkness.” —Los Angeles Times

“The fast-paced narrative brings to life the London banking world of the go-go early Nineties, just before the quants took over, with unexpected consequences that would eventually result in the Great Recession… Campbell knows this world intimately, and she pushes the boat of plot out beyond predictability, while keeping her characters believable and engaging.” —Women’s Wear Daily.com

“Part of what makes Irish author Aifric Campbell’s [On the Floor] work is her refusal to pity her characters… Her tough-talking, irreverent prose engenders an updated take on the Wall Street morality tale.” —The Daily Beast

“Confident, engaging, and incredibly readable… Recalling Bonfire of the Vanities and Wall Street, On the Floor is a work that throws us lock, stock, and barrel into the world of high finance…. a fascinating read—sometimes terrifying, often witty, always engagingly written. Judging from this debut, you can bank on Ms. Campbell to produce wonderful results in the future.” —New York Journal of Books

“Campbell knows the City and she writes like a demon…. An illuminating look at one woman as she tries to figure out what’s really important.” —Laurie Muchnick, Bloomberg

“Campbell, a former managing director at Morgan Stanley, punctures the seamy darkness of banking with acute observations… Geri’s self-aware reenactment of Wall Street (a film the traders see as a ‘reconfirmation that greed is good and lunch is for wimps’) is a heart-pounding ride.” —Publishers Weekly

“A riveting loss-of-innocence story sharply informed by the author’s years as a manager on the London trading room floor.” —Library Journal

“Move over, Lisbeth Salander! Geri Molloy is a captivating protagonist---she might not have a dragon tattoo, but her story is riveting. On the Floor is the smartest financial novel since The Bonfire of the Vanities, and the first with a fully drawn female heroine. As someone who worked in the trenches of Wall Street during the 1990s, I can attest that the details are dead right. And I’m still cheering Geri on.”—Frank Partnoy, bestselling author of F.I.A.S.C.O.: The Inside Story of a Wall Street Trader and Wait: The Art and Science of Delay

“Aifric Campbell knows her subjects intimately, and On the Floor reveals the secrets of high-stakes finance and her heroine’s private lives. Geri Molloy aces her career with pluck and genius. A brilliant and hilarious novel.”—Min Jin Lee, national bestselling author of Free Food for Millionaires

“In On the Floor, Aifric Campbell has created the perfect heroine in Geri Molloy: complicated, wildly talented, wary of others yet longing to connect, and haunted by demons both past and present as she navigates the high-flying financial world of the early 1990s. A hugely intelligent and fast-paced novel about what drives us, what fulfills us, and how to tell the difference.”—Emily Rapp, author of The Still Point of the Turning World

"In On the Floor, Campbell's heroine becomes caught in a game of cat and mouse with a twisted mastermind, her career and soul at stake. She's a cross between Sherman McCoy and Bridget Jones."—John Coates, author of The Hour Between Dog and Wolf

“A sharp, knowing, and utterly gripping account of a young woman's hazardous voyage through the shark-infested waters of high finance, where the most profound emotions are often traded as insider information. In Geri Molloy, the author has created an unforgettable heroine, a damaged but resourceful woman struggling to retain her humanity in a world of secrets, lies, and greed. Aifric Campbell has brilliantly combined the best elements of the modern financial thriller and the nineteenth-century coming-of-age story to create a commanding work of fiction.”—Stephen Amidon, author of Human Capital and Security  

“Aifric Campbell’s gripping novel is set in the tough world of the financial market and the high-octane trading floor, but it is about so much more than that. On the Floor is thrilling, morally searching, and beautifully written contemporary fiction, proof that the novel can be urgently relevant as well as utterly compelling.”—Joseph O’Connor, author of Star of the Sea and Ghost Light 

On the Floor is a funny-yet-serious coming-of-age story about a young woman who finally grows up and takes control.”—The Independent (London)

“Impressively constructed...A short, snappy, and ultrasmart drama.”—Daily Mirror (London)

“A good, literary read…On the Floor is a wonderful look into the financial world of the nineties; a time before banking became ruled by scientists and geeks.”—The Irish Examiner

“Enjoyable...Campbell knows this world well, so it all feels authentic.”—Irish Sunday Times

On the Floor is a riveting novel from a unique talent. Aifric Campbell effortlessly conjures the action and excitement of the trading room floor creating a novel that explores the consequences of risk taking and ultimately thrills from start to finish.”—Irish Tatler

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Picador (June 25, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250028396
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250028396
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 0.9 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,459,037 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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) with 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 Richard Montague, a brilliant logician at UCLA and THE LOSS ADJUSTOR. Aifric is Irish and lives in the UK. She holds a PhD from University of East Anglia and teaches at Imperial College, London. Follow www.aifriccampbell.com/ Official FB/Twitter/Linkedin

Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Ripple on March 24, 2012
Format: Paperback
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.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Stephen T. Hopkins VINE VOICE on July 26, 2013
Format: Hardcover
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.

Rating: Four-star (I like it)
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Ian Kaplan VINE VOICE on July 27, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By R. W. Millis on August 21, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Wonderful character depth, lyrical delivery of moments and settings. Expected the climax to be the start of a longer epic, and I'm not yet sure whether this is a disappointment or not.

Great read for anyone with a soft spot for wounded souls and underdogs, especially if they appreciate the world of finance and trading.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By FryLady on July 22, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
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.
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