Viking has won a nine-way auction to publish Brixton-based youth worker Ciaran Thapar’s non-fiction debut, billed as “the first book to explore the youth violence epidemic”.
Viking assistant editor Connor Brown, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights to Cut Short: Youth, Violence and Loss in the City from Matthew Turner at Rogers, Coleridge & White. The deal followed a nine-publisher bidding war.
“London is a city shadowed by uninhabited ghost towers, with a police force stretched thin, teachers expected to act like social workers and a generation of young people fearful for their lives,” the synopsis reads. “How did we get here, what is really going on and how do we move forward? Youth worker and journalist Ciaran Thapar finds answers in the experiences of those with whom he has built relationships, learned from and mentored.” The book is described by Viking as “the first book to explore the youth violence epidemic”.
Covering the last five years, which saw record-breaking levels of youth violence, Cut Short “follows a cast of characters at the sharp end of this epidemic,” Viking said. “It vividly conveys the lives of individuals but is ultimately about who we are and how we are all connected to this tragedy. It is a gripping, urgent, sympathetic and often painful portrait of a society fracturing along lines of race, class and postcodes.” The publisher described it as “a book we desperately need”.
Thapar is a youth worker and journalist living in Brixton. He has written on knife crime, violence, youth services and UK rap for publications such as Vice, the Guardian, BBC Stories, New Statesman, Prospect and i-D as well as GQ. He has advocated on behalf of young people in the House of Lords and House of Commons and has featured on ITV and BBC News as well as BBC Radio, talking about youth violence in the UK. This is his first book.
Brown said: “We read the shocking headlines about knife crime but remarkably few commentators are writing thoughtfully about what is going on in our cities. As not only a writer with real flair but also a youth worker who has spent five years working with the people he writes about, Ciaran Thapar is uniquely placed to write the first book to explore why the youth violence epidemic is happening and how we can move forward. We’re delighted to be publishing it at Viking.”
Thapar said: “The reason I write is to tell stories that otherwise don’t receive proper representation in journalism and literature. Cut Short is the culmination of this motivation: my attempt to unpick and explain hidden injustices which are overwhelming young people and communities across London."
He added: "I hope it will also help readers reflect upon where we are headed as a society. It is not just a book. It is also my way of making sense of our collective responsibility, and a call-to-action for positive change from all angles of life in the city, including education, criminal justice, and parliamentary politics, for example. I’m thrilled to be working with Viking and Connor to make Cut Short a reality that everyone, no matter their background, can access.”