Poverty Safari, Darren McGarvey’s memoir about growing up in Glasgow, has topped a readers’ poll of “most rebellious reads of the 21st Century” organised by the Scottish Book Trust.
The Orwell Prize-winning debut, authored by the rapper known as 'Loki' and published by Picador and Luath Press, claimed 44% of all votes cast in the online vote for Book Week Scotland, the theme of which for 2018 is “Rebel”. Over the course of six weeks in the run up to Book Week Scotland, over 3,500 people participated in the online poll - a record numbers of voters.
In second place was another autobiographical read, A Streetcat Named Bob by James Bowen (Hodder), about the healing relationship that he developed with an injured cat whilst homeless. The Good Immigrant (Unbound), the crowdfunded anthology challenging perceptions of immigrants, edited by Nikesh Shukla, took third place.
The remaining books in the top 10 explore a range of topics, including race, feminism and capitalism, and some were published a decade apart. The public voted Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge (Bloomsbury) into fourth place; in fifth, Freedom is a Constant Struggle by Angela Y Davies (Haymarket Books); in sixth, I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes with Death by Maggie O’Farrell (Tinder); in seventh, I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai (W&N); in eighth, Nasty Women by 404 Ink (404 Ink); in ninth, The Secret Barrister: Stories of the Law and How It’s Broken by the Secret Barrister (Picador); and 10th, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism by Naomi Klein (Penguin).
A shortlist of 21 “rebellious” non-fiction titles was initially crowdsourced through Scottish Book Trust’s website and social media channels before being decided by a panel including: head of General Collections of the National Library of Scotland, Graeme Hawley; Mai Oliver, owner and bookseller of Lighthouse Books; and Literature Officer of Creative Scotland, Erin McElhinney. Members of the public were then asked to vote for their favourite before 21st November 2018.
Marc Lambert, c.e.o. of Scottish Book Trust, said the vote was “always a great way to start new conversations about why different books matter to different people”.
“This year, the spotlight is on books that challenge our perceptions and encourage us to ask questions about the way society works,” he said. “Clearly, the top-ten is exceptionally strong and it’s great to see that Poverty Safari, a home-grown success story by a new Scottish writer, has topped the list.”
Praised for his "rich, experiential perspective on social deprivation" and hailed "a beacon voice for the wide range of readers who are currently struggling to make sense of Britain", McGarvey in August signed a two-book deal with Ebury Press.
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