Picador snaps up Scottish author Armstrong's 'blistering' debut

Picador snaps up Scottish author Armstrong's 'blistering' debut

Picador has snapped up a “blistering” debut novel about youth culture, violence and gang life in Scotland by Graeme Armstrong.

World rights for The Young Team were acquired by editor Kris Doyle from Jonathan Ruppin at the Ruppin Agency. It is scheduled for release in hardback, e-book and audio on 5th March 2020.

Described by Lowborn (Vintage) author Kerry Hudson as “a book full of guts, power, humour and humanity”, the novel was inspired by Armstrong’s own experiences, taking in themes of knife crime, substance abuse, mental illness and modern masculinity.

Its synopsis states: “Meet Azzy Williams. He’s not the sort you typically find as the hero of books. But he’s the hero of this book and he’s ready. Ready to smoke, pop pills, drink wine and he’s ready to fight. Most of all, he’s ready to do anything for his friends, his gang, his young team. In the forgotten industrial heartland of Scotland, your troops, your young team – they’re everything. When you meet him, he’s fourteen. His life is one of Buckfast, gang-fights and a growing reputation. By the time he’s twenty-one, his life is out of control; he’s dealt with addiction, mental-health problems and the death of a friend. He dreams of leaving it all behind. But where he’s from, a way out isn’t so easy to find.”

Doyle said: “Armstrong understands what’s going on in this community and has transformed his intimate knowledge into a ferociously written novel. He nails the cultural references, the dialogue and the landscape; he’s also brought to life a character you’ll care about as he tries to negotiate the world in front of him. It stood out a mile from the usual fiction submissions. I think a lot of readers will be shocked by it, but there’ll be another group who read this book and say: that’s what it’s like, that’s it exactly.”

Armstrong added: “I started writing The Young Team in my first weeks free from drugs in 2013, in an attempt to make sense of my past and answer profound questions about my future. Considering the novel’s use of genuine vernacular dialect, both my agent and editor have shown real courage in supporting me. The novel is based upon my experiences of Scotland’s violent gang culture and closely examines our relationship with illegal drugs and addiction. I hope it will offer new ways of thinking and a plausible alternative to young men and women suffering through drugs or violence.”