Publication Date: 03/02/2022 ISBN: 9781529032017 Category:

The Life Inside

Andy West

Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Publication Date: 03/02/2022 ISBN: 9781529032017 Category:




‘Tense and intimate… an education.’ Geoff Dyer
‘Written with sensitivity and humanity… a remarkable insight into prison life.’ Amanda Brown
‘Authentic, fascinating and deeply moving.’ Terry Waite
‘Enriching, sobering and at times heartrending… a wonder’ Lenny Henry

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 goes behind bars, he also confronts his inherited trauma: his father, uncle and brother all spent time in prison. 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 book. Through a blend of memoir, 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.

‘Strives with humour and compassion to understand the phenomenon of prison’ Sydney Review of Books
‘A fascinating and enlightening journey… A legitimate page-turner’ 3AM

Publisher Review

In The Life Inside, Andy 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. West reminds us that thinking, debating, and learning are not luxuries but crucial for survival, urgent inquiries into who we are. -- Alex Marzano-Lesnevich Andy West bears witness to life inside prison, 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 - The Life Inside reveals how people survive. -- Caitlin Davies A book that every thinking person should read. -- Simon Critchley Andy West's tense and intimate book is an education - a completely unsentimental and, for that reason, a compassionate and moving one. At its heart is an appeal against the life sentence handed down by Larkin in 'This Be The Verse'. The Life Inside deserves the widest possible readership. -- Geoff Dyer An authentic, fascinating and deeply moving story about the different ways people search for freedom. -- Terry Waite 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 Thaper 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. So rare I can't think of anyone who has managed it as well as Andy West in this raw and utterly authentic account of his role as a prison philosophy teacher. More and more compelling with every turn of the page, his interactions with his students reveal his own deep and often disturbing inner truths as well as theirs. A great resource for self-reflection and rational thinking. -- Erwin James Written with compassion and searing honesty. * The Tablet *

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