Who They Was (Paperback)
  • Who They Was (Paperback)
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Who They Was (Paperback)

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£8.99
Paperback 336 Pages / Published: 27/05/2021
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Waterstones Says

An unflinching depiction of the perpetual violence of London’s streets written from brutal first hand experience, Who They Was deconstructs honour and revenge, brotherhood and betrayal with great emotional honesty.

Longlisted for the Swansea University International Dylan Thomas Prize 2021

This life is like being in an ocean. Some people keep swimming towards the bottom. Some people touch the bottom with one foot, or even both, and then push themselves off it to get back up to the top, where you can breathe. Others get to the bottom and decide they want to stay there. I don't want to get to the bottom because I'm already drowning.

This is a story of a London you won't find in any guidebooks.

This is a story about what it's like to exist in the moment, about boys too eager to become men, growing up in the hidden war zones of big cities - and the girls trying to make it their own way.

This is a story of reputations made and lost, of violence and vengeance - and never counting the cost.

This is a story of concrete towers and blank eyed windows, of endless nights in police stations and prison cells, of brotherhood and betrayal.

This is about the boredom, the rush, the despair, the fear and the hope.

This is about what's left behind.

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
ISBN: 9780008375034
Number of pages: 336
Weight: 230 g
Dimensions: 198 x 129 x 22 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS

'An astonishingly powerful book. Krauze is an immense new talent' - Cathy Rentzenbrink, author of The Last Act of Love

'A timely and vital exploration into London's violence crisis by someone who experienced the sharp end of it. I cannot conjure another work which captures this culture in such depth - or with such brutal honesty - as only lived experience can tell. This is a literary rendering of the Top Boy generation tackling the expected themes of drugs, violence, poverty and social justice - and the unexpected - family, futility and fragility. Krauze's voice is stuck in my head and it is an authentic voice of the streets' - Graeme Armstrong, author of The Young Team

'Gabriel Krauze is an unbelievably talented writer. No one manages to blend "literary beauty" and "an uncomfortable feeling that he's actually quite scary" like him' - Joel Golby

'It is exceptional' - Candice Carty-Williams, author of Queenie

'A wild ride from the very first page. An astonishing telling of a young man's search for belonging, caught between a life of crime with his London gang and hopes for his academic future' - Douglas Stuart, author of Shuggie Bain

'Arrives on the literary scene like the sound of gunfire over a south Kilburn housing estate ... With its distinctive argot and moments of ultraviolence, Who They Was is akin to A Clockwork Orange - except that instead of a well-heeled author's fantastical brainchild, it is a hyperrealistic tale from a writer who has lived the lifestyle it describes' - The Guardian

'By turns visceral, funny, moving and appalling ... a powerful evocation of gang life on this estate in south Kilburn' - The Times

'There is a lot of soul-searching, but it is never allowed to interrupt the action for long; Gabriel is just as likely to be witnessing somebody else's navel being sliced open as gazing at his own ... he writes honestly and infesctiously about the buzz that comes with committing violent crime ... he has plenty of talent to see him through' - The Telegraph

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“Addictive!”

Thank you to the publishers for this review copy.
I was very intrigued when I heard about this book and then saw that it was booker longlist for 2020, this then became a book that I absolutely must read.
The first few... More

Hardback edition
1 similar book recommended
Helpful? Upvote 10

“A powerful Booker longlisted novel”

I read this book due to its longlisting for the 2020 Booker Prize – and what I am quickly realising is a varied, brave and innovative longlist, which in particular features a range of really diverse debuts.

This is... More

Hardback edition
Helpful? Upvote 10

“A breathtaking debut of epic proportions”

This London novel is a breathtaking literary experience that confronted me as the reader and made me question my grasp of morality and good and evil. The characters, the setting, the language, the story, it was all so... More

Hardback edition
Helpful? Upvote 8

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