Poverty Safari, a best-selling memoir about growing up in Glasgow has been selected in an online vote for Book Week Scotland 2018 as the most rebellious read of the 21st century.
Now in its seventh year, Book Week Scotland is run by Scottish Book Trust, the national charity transforming lives through reading and writing. In keeping with Book Week Scotland’s 2018 theme ‘Rebel,’ readers were asked to select their most rebellious read from a shortlist of 21 non-fiction books.
Claiming 44% of all votes cast, Poverty Safari by writer and performer Darren McGarvey, aka Loki, was followed in second place by A Streetcat Named Bob by James Bowen.
Bowen’s inspiring story, which is also autobiographical, focuses on the healing relationship that he developed with an injured cat whilst homeless.
The Good Immigrant anthology edited by Nikesh Shukla, a crowdfunded book that challenges perceptions of immigrants with a diverse array of voices, took third place.
Over 3,500 people participated in the online poll, which was open for six weeks prior to the start of Book Week Scotland, and drew in record numbers of voters.
Poverty Safari, McGarvey’s first book, has garnered praise from across the political spectrum for its unflinching portrayal of the realities of growing up in poverty in Scotland. The book also won the Orwell Prize 2018 and was listed as a Sunday Times top ten best seller.
Initially crowdsourced through Scottish Book Trust’s website and social media channels, the rebellious read shortlist was decided by a panel including: Head of General Collections of the National Library of Scotland, Graeme Hawley; Mairi Oliver, owner and bookseller of Lighthouse Books; and Literature Officer of Creative Scotland, Erin McElhinney.
The top ten most rebellious reads of the 21st century, as voted by the public are:
1, Poverty Safari by Darren McGarvey; 2, A Streetcat Named Bob by James Bowen; 3, The Good Immigrant by Nikesh Shukla; 4, Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge; 5, Freedom is a Constant Struggle by Angela Y Davies; 6, I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes with Death by Maggie O’Farrell; 7, I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai; 8, Nasty Women by 404 Ink; 9, The Secret Barrister: Stories of the Law and How It’s Broken by the Secret Barrister; 10, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism by Naomi Klein.
Marc Lambert, CEO of Scottish Book Trust, said: ‘I’m delighted to see record numbers participate in this year’s online vote. We always find that this is 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. 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.’
Erin McElhinney, literature officer at Creative Scotland, said: ‘Books can change the world – whether it’s a writer challenging the status quo, or a reader being introduced to new ideas. The books on this contemporary top ten list, and the strong public response to them, is a testament to the rebellious potential of the written word.’