Winner of the Orwell Prize 2018.
People from deprived communities all around Britain feel misunderstood and unheard. Darren McGarvey aka Loki gives voice to their feelings and concerns, and the anger that is spilling over. Anger he says we will have to get used to, unless things change.
He invites you to come on a safari of sorts. A Poverty Safari. But not the sort where the indigenous population is surveyed from a safe distance for a time, before the window on the community closes and everyone gradually forgets about it.
I know the hustle and bustle of high-rise life, the dark and dirty stairwells, the temperamental elevators that smell like urine and wet dog fur, the grumpy concierge, the apprehension you feel as you enter or leave the building, especially at night. I know that sense of being cut off from the world, despite having such a wonderful view of it through a window in the sky; that feeling of isolation, despite being surrounded by hundreds of other people above, below and either side of you. But most of all, I understand the sense that you are invisible, despite the fact that your community can be seen for miles around and is one of the most prominent features of the city skyline.
Nothing less than an intellectual and spiritual rehab manual for the progressive left. - Irvine Welsh Part memoir, part polemic, this is a savage, wise and witty tour-de-force. An unflinching account of the realities of systemic poverty, Poverty Safari lays down challenges to both the left and right. It is hard to think of a more timely, powerful or necessary book. - J.K. Rowling A blistering analysis of the issues facing the voiceless and the social mechanisms that hobble progress, all wrapped up in an unput-downable memoir. - Denise Mina Raw, powerful and challenging. - Kezia Dugdale A scan of the injuries poverty leaves in Britain, which manages to be humane, angry and wise all at the same time. - Nick Cohen The ignorance class division fosters and 'our assumptions about the people on the other side of the divide' are Darren McGarvey's themes. His Poverty Safari is one of the best accounts of working-class life I have read. McGarvey is a rarity: a working-class writer who has fought to make the middle-class world hear what he has to say. - Nick Cohen in The Guardian, 23rd September 2017 If The Road To Wigan Pier had been written by a Wigan miner and not an Etonian rebel, this is what might have been achieved. McGarvey's book takes you to the heart of what is wrong with the society free market capitalism has created. - Paul Mason His book is a powerful polemic and details his own experiences of neglect and addiction growing up in a Glasgow `scheme'. It uses that element of memoir as bait, and then fearlessly critiques the received ways in which the `underclass' has been characterised. Most arrestingly, McGarvey challenges the ways in which poverty has been tackled ineffectively by well-meaning liberals on the left, and neglected by the right. I strongly recommend it. - Shahidha Bari, senior lecturer in Romanticism at Queen Mary University of London The book is not an easy read. It is a personal memoir about deprivation, abuse, violence, addiction, family breakdown, neglect and social isolation. But it is also a positive book, a book of hope and no little courage. At the same time, it contains both challenges to and insight for the competing ways in which both the political left and right view and seek to respond to poverty. - Adam Tomkins MSP But what has made McGarvey such a particular figure of attention is his political message. As the old mainstream desperately seeks a response to Trump and Brexit, McGarvey, a life-long radical socialist, seems to offer an antidote to populist anger that transcends left and right. But his urgently written, articulate and emotional book is a bracing contribution to the debate about how to fix our broken politics. - Financial Times, December 2017 The man seems to be on his way to becoming one of the most compelling and original voices in Scotland's, and maybe Britain's, public debate. If Scotland's underclass could speak in a single, articulate, authentic voice to communicate to the rest of us what it's like to be poor, isolated, brutalised, lost, it would sound very much like this. - Chris Deerin, Daily Mail
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