Publication Date: 09/02/2023 ISBN: 9781529032024 Category:

The Life Inside

Andy West

Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Publication Date: 09/02/2023 ISBN: 9781529032024 Category:
Paperback / Softback




An Irish Times and The i Book of 2022
‘Tense and intimate . . . an education’ – Geoff Dyer
‘Enriching, sobering and at times heartrending. A wonder’ – Sir Lenny Henry
‘Authentic, fascinating and deeply moving’ – Terry Waite

Can someone in prison be more free than someone outside? Would we ever be good if we never felt shame? What makes a person worthy of forgiveness?

Andy West teaches philosophy in prisons. Every day he has conversations with people inside about their lives, discusses their ideas and feelings, and listens as they explore new ways to think about their situation.

When Andy steps into a prison, he also confronts his inherited shame: his father, uncle and brother all spent time behind bars. While Andy has built a different life for himself, he still fears that their fate will also be his. As he discusses pressing questions of truth, identity and hope with his students, he searches for his own form of freedom too.

Moving, sympathetic, wise and frequently funny, The Life Inside is an elegantly written and unforgettable memoir. Through a blend of storytelling and gentle philosophical questioning, it offers a new insight into our stretched justice system, our failing prisons and the complex lives being lived inside.

‘Inspiring’ – The Observer
‘Strives with humour and compassion to understand the phenomenon of prison’ – Sydney Review of Books
‘Expands both heart and mind’ – Ciaran Thapar
‘A fascinating and enlightening journey . . . A legitimate page-turner’ – 3AM

Publisher Review

Andy West's tense and intimate book is an education . . . The Life Inside deserves the widest possible readership. -- Geoff Dyer By turns enriching, sobering and at times, heartrending. A tale centering on our inner critic or executioner and how to stifle its constant sniping. A wonder. * Sir Lenny Henry * An authentic, fascinating and deeply moving story about the different ways people search for freedom. -- Terry Waite Written with sensitivity and humanity... a remarkable insight into prison life * Amanda Brown, author of The Prison Doctor * West powerfully interweaves an account of teaching philosophy in prison with his own family's history of imprisonment, creating an intellectually thrilling memoir of freedom and constraint. -- Alex Marzano-Lesnevich, author of The Fact of a Body Weaving philosophical questions about free will, forgiveness, guilt and shame, with family history and the realities of incarceration. Beautifully written - honest, painful, absurd and sometimes joyful. -- Caitlin Davies, author of Queens of the Underworld A book that every thinking person should read. -- Simon Critchley, author of Continental Philosophy Written with compassion and searing honesty. * The Tablet * The Life Inside is an honest, delicate memoir that doubles as an accessible handbook of philosophical ideas. It expands both heart and mind; I'll never think about prisons - let alone my own freedom and family - the same way again. -- Ciaran Thapar, author of Cut Short It's a rare feat for anyone who works in a prison to capture the smell, the flavour and the taste of the fetid air they share with the prisoners in a book . . . More and more compelling with every turn of the page. -- Erwin James, author of Redeemable These are tender, complicated relationships, and there is candour and wisdom - and no little courage - in how West shows them to us. * The New Humanist * West incorporates philosophical, descriptive, and psychological elements as with a fine Dickensian brush he paints a picture of the gritty details of prison life... profoundly moving. * Philosophy Now * Insightful and sophisticated. * TLS * An astonishing, necessary book . . . brilliantly dispels damaging myths about those whose lives are lived inside. * Lucia Osborne-Crowley * Immersing, entertaining and wonderfully empathetic. * The Bookseller * Drawn with great tenderness. * Prospect * One of the best books I've read this year. Moving, witty and profound, it's a powerfully humane book about a part of life that's defined by inhumanity. * Matt Rowland Hill * Poignant, insightful, and full of philosophical substance. * The Philosophers' Magazine * The Life Inside is extraordinary. * Rob Doyle *

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