search for something...

search for something you might like...

Who They Was Gabriel Krauze delivers a Shock Doctrine from the block just up the road.

Who They Was

Gabriel Krauze delivers a Shock Doctrine from the block just up the road.

by Lee Paul,
first published: July, 2021

approximate reading time: minutes

Who They Was is no Skinhead in Trouble

Gabriel Krauze
4th Estate/Bloomsbury

Gabriel Krauze's Who They Was is just out in the US, a year or so after the UK release. 

I don’t want to say longlisted, that vernacular is already way too dispiriting. Or even mention the Booker prize at all. Or think about publishing classifications like Autofiction or whether Biographical Literary Fiction gives or takes too much, or even any of the shoe horns and all of the labels that exist to package this, to parse this outsiders tale of outsiders at the very heart of our culture, to convert it into a product that can be marketed and then consumed and nominated for prizes, and discussed in coffee shops and dabbled with by dilettantes and made a quarterly sales goal priority in executive suites and and. And then the whole caravan moves on to another name and another product by another author and how well you know the next author's name I write here will depend on who was in charge of marketing, and what the budget was. And that name is… Oh fuck no, I am not telling you. Probably the first author you can think of.

In the end, elsewhere it’ll be just regarded with a variation of the same narrative, the same vernacular, the same adjectives and then and then and then assuredly everything will just be smoothed lumpily over and we'll want it to be the same as it was before.

Maybe more people should and more people will read Who They Was than the bible this year. More people should and will suspend their suspension of disbelief. And maybe they’ll stop thinking that giving out spam sandwiches is a panacea for the hungry. Maybe more people will come to value the child on the way to school, staring each day at a bloody image of a murdered member of their community on a digital bus stop sign - asking them to dial in their witness statement. And then probably die too if they do. Maybe at some point someone is gonna say what’s it going to take to negotiate a truce in England’s Civil War?

Who They Was is a street level gangster novel where the fantasy is almost always non-existent, except for the kids for whom diamond encrusted grills and Aquaracers mean something. It’s a dangerous, exciting, fun and gloomy world, depending on where you stand. Depending on where you live. Who They Was makes past gangster guys read like they’re reciting Carry On movie scripts. Who They Was features no Joe Hawkins, Who They Was is no Skinhead in Trouble. Who They Was is a real horror story though, one of the many amazing horror stories published this year, Failure of State, say is another one of them. That one a story of a different class of gangster. Every page here is shouting aloud, if we are not valued, we will find our own value, our own values. Same as it ever was. Can’t wait to read what Gabriel Krauze writes next.

Who They Was

Essential Info
Main image: Gabriel Krauze by Steve Turvey



All About and Contributors


Outsideleft exists on a precarious no budget budget. We are interested in hearing from deep and deeper pocket types willing to underwrite our cultural vulture activity. We're not so interested in plastering your product all over our stories, but something more subtle and dignified for all parties concerned. Contact us and let's talk. [HELP OUTSIDELEFT]


If Outsideleft had arms they would always be wide open and welcoming to new writers and new ideas. If you've got something to say, something a small dank corner of the world needs to know about, a poem to publish, a book review, a short story, if you love music or the arts or anything else, write something about it and send it along. Of course we don't have anything as conformist as a budget here. But we'd love to see what you can do. Write for Outsideleft, do. [SUBMISSIONS FORM HERE]


Ooh Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha May 29th

outsideleft content is not for everyone