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Who They Was
Cover of Who They Was
Who They Was
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Longlisted for the Booker Prize 2020 A Spectator Book of the Year 'A literary rendering of the Top Boy generation... I cannot conjure another work which captures this culture in such depth – or with such brutal honesty – as only lived experience can tell ' Graeme Armstrong, author of The Young Team 'An astonishingly powerful book' Cathy Rentzenbrink, author of The Last Act of Love 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.
Longlisted for the Booker Prize 2020 A Spectator Book of the Year 'A literary rendering of the Top Boy generation... I cannot conjure another work which captures this culture in such depth – or with such brutal honesty – as only lived experience can tell ' Graeme Armstrong, author of The Young Team 'An astonishingly powerful book' Cathy Rentzenbrink, author of The Last Act of Love 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.
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  • Publisher's Weekly

    January 11, 2021
    Krauze’s autobiographical debut sketches an explosive, episodic image of a young British man’s double life as college student and armed robber. At 17, Gabriel Krauze, known to friends as Snoopz, leaves his Polish immigrant parents and twin brother behind to live in the rough public housing of South Kilburn, London, in the early 2000s. He spends his days getting high and mugging people (sometimes “just to break the boredom”), and makes insightful comments in English class (on Romeo and Juliet: “Revenge is the purest instinct whether you like it or not”). The summer before his second year, he is placed on house arrest for assault. Snoopz drifts through the days “bunning cro” (smoking weed) and breaking his house arrest to continue attacking people. A stint in prison for violating his probation does little to change his ways, and the tinges of regret that eventually appear go nowhere. At times the author’s swagger makes the reader feel the real-life material hasn’t been fully sublimated, but the prose sizzles as Snoopz’s frantic narration (“I swear I’m gonna frass out and Mazey says swear down fam?”) blends with arresting lyrical flourishes (“I watch dawn’s pink fingers claw the sky open”). This tour through a hard-knock life is compulsively readable. Agent: Jo Unwin, Jo Unwin Literary Agency.

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Who They Was
Who They Was
Gabriel Krauze
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