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Longlisted for the Booker Prize
An astonishing, visceral autobiographical novel about a young man straddling two cultures: the university where he is studying English Literature and the disregarded world of London gang warfare.
The unforgettable narrator of this compelling, thought-provoking debut goes by two names in his two worlds. At the university he attends, he's Gabriel, a seemingly ordinary, partying student learning about morality at a distance. But in his life outside the classroom, he's Snoopz, a hard living member of London's gangs, well-acquainted with drugs, guns, stabbings, and robbery. Navigating these sides of himself, dealing with loving parents at the same time as treacherous, endangering friends and the looming threat of prison, he is forced to come to terms with who he really is and the life he's chosen for himself.
In a distinct, lyrical urban slang all his own, author Gabriel Krauze brings to vivid life the underworld of his city and the destructive impact of toxic masculinity. Who They Was is a disturbing yet tender and perspective-altering account of the thrill of violence and the trauma it leaves behind. It is the story of inner cities everywhere, and of the lost boys who must find themselves in their tower blocks.