I harbour – perversely, you might think – the fondest memories of two much maligned phenomena: the 1970s and Birmingham. I was lucky, of course. I had a relatively pleasant, carefree adolescence, and I see all this through a Proustian haze of nostalgia . . . and so, for the most part at least, does Jonathan Coe. His unabashed affection for his teens, and for the city where they took place, forms the core of The Rotters’ Club – a rite-of-passage novel which should take its place as an enduring classic of the genre, in the same league as The Catcher in the Rye or Tom Sawyer.