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Gavin Knight's Top Book Recommendations

Want to know what books Gavin Knight recommends on their reading list? We've researched interviews, social media posts, podcasts, and articles to build a comprehensive list of Gavin Knight's favorite book recommendations of all time.

'This all began quite unexpectedly one rainy autumn evening a couple of years ago in a fairground near to the centre of Nottingham...'
In amongst the bright lights and bumper cars, Nick Davies noticed two boys, no more than twelve years old, oddly detached from the fun of the scene. Davies discovered they were part of a network of children selling themselves on the streets of the city, running a nightly gauntlet of dangers: pimps, punters, the Vice Squad, disease, drugs. This propelled Davies into a journey of discovery through the slums and ghettoes of our cities. He found himself in...
Recommended by Gavin Knight, and 1 others.

Gavin KnightAs you say, Nick Davies is a brilliant investigative journalist. Dark Heart is not so much about crime but about poverty, but he does show how they are linked. He was at a fairground in the centre of Nottingham and noticed two boys hanging around, whom he befriended. They take him on a very dark journey around the streets of Nottingham – one that involves child prostitutes, pimps, vice squads and... (Source)

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Inner-city black America is often stereotyped as a place of random violence, but in fact, violence in the inner city is regulated through an informal but well-known code of the street. This unwritten set of rules—based largely on an individual's ability to command respect—is a powerful and pervasive form of etiquette, governing the way in which people learn to negotiate public spaces. Elijah Anderson's incisive book delineates the code and examines it as a response to the lack of jobs that pay a living wage, to the stigma of race, to rampant drug use, to alienation and lack of hope. less
Recommended by Gavin Knight, and 1 others.

Gavin KnightThe code of the street has to do with the difference between “decent families” and “street families”, as Anderson calls them. The decent families believe in family values, provide their children with a supportive network and an accepted code of behaviour. In street families, in poor urban areas, it’s all about respect and aggression. To be respected in this environment you have to give the... (Source)

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The crime-infested intersection of West Fayette and Monroe Streets is well-known--and cautiously avoided--by most of Baltimore. But this notorious corner's 24-hour open-air drug market provides the economic fuel for a dying neighborhood. David Simon, an award-winning author and crime reporter, and Edward Burns, a 20-year veteran of the urban drug war, tell the chilling story of this desolate crossroad.

Through the eyes of one broken family--two drug-addicted adults and their smart, vulnerable 15-year-old son, DeAndre McCollough, Simon and Burns examine the sinister realities of...
Recommended by Gavin Knight, Jonathon Green, and 2 others.

Gavin KnightAs you say, this is the book that led to The Wire, which David Simon created. The corner in the title is on West Fayette and North Monroe streets in West Baltimore. It’s an open-air drug market in a post-industrial landscape where the drug trade has taken over. The authors look at the area through the lives of the McCullough family – two drug-addict parents and their 15-year-old son DeAndre. (Source)

Jonathon GreenI wanted to choose a book that showed slang on stage or, as one might say, “live”. The Corner is a view that you could only get through a great deal of patience and supreme reportorial skills. The authors spend a year with a family who use crack cocaine, and you watch the whole world of selling the drug. On one level it’s a soap opera – you could say it’s a crack soap opera. You become fond of... (Source)

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Italy's Other Mafia

Roberto Saviano's groundbreaking and utterly compelling book is a major international bestseller, and has to date sold 650,000 copies in Italy alone. Since publishing his searing expose of their criminal activities, the author has received so many death threats from the Camorra that he has been assigned police protection. Known by insiders as 'the System', the Camorra, an organized crime network with a global reach and large stakes in construction, high fashion, illicit drugs and toxic-waste disposal, exerts a malign grip on cities and villages along the Neapolitan coast is the deciding... more
Recommended by Gavin Knight, and 1 others.

Gavin KnightIt’s true that the numbers killed by the Camorra are so much greater than anything in Britain. Also the way people are killed and disposed of is different and much more brutal. There is also the pervasive influence of the mafia in southern Italy, especially when it comes to the dumping of toxic waste. (Source)

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Lush Life

"Price is the greatest writer of dialogue, living or dead, this country has ever produced. Wry, profane, hilarious, and tragic, sometimes in a single line, Lush Life is his masterwork. I doubt anyone will write a novel this good for a long, long time." — Dennis Lehane

"So, what do you do?"

Whenever people asked him, Eric Cash used to have a dozen answers. Artist, actor, screenwriter… But now he's thirty-five years old and he's still living on the Lower East Side, still in the restaurant business, still serving the people he wanted to be. What does...
Recommended by Barack Obama, Gavin Knight, and 2 others.

Barack ObamaAs a devoted reader, the president has been linked to a lengthy list of novels and poetry collections over the years — he admits he enjoys a thriller. (Source)

Gavin KnightI love this book. Richard Price is famous for his detailed research and you can see that here in his descriptions of the cops and the kids. There’s a wonderful description of one kid growing up with his abusive stepfather and reaching the age that he can start to fight back. This is something I encountered a lot when I talked to boys in the inner cities. You have an abusive father or stepfather... (Source)

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