“When you read these worlds in the books, it’s normally by a middle-class writer who creates a one-dimensional villain,” said Douglas Stuart, who won the Booker last year for “Shuggie Bain,” his first novel about the life of the working class. in a phone interview, “but Gabriel created a world so rich in detail, motivation and consequence.”
Krauze insisted that the book is more than a sinister tale. “It’s a moral confrontation with the reader,” he said, saying it forces readers to realize that some people commit crimes because of their psychology, as well as poverty or lack of opportunity. .
The author’s note in some editions of the book is even clearer. “This is the life I have chosen,” he writes. “Maybe I was looking for a sense of family and identity that I couldn’t find at home. Maybe this is how I found my people and they found me.
Krauze was born in north-west London to a cartoonist and painter who had both immigrated from Poland. He grew up on the corner of the South Kilburn Estate, in an apartment where his twin brother played the violin for hours a day. He became obsessed with books as a child, devouring everything from Tolkien to WWI non-fiction, and realized he wanted to be a writer at the age of 13.
That same year, he also threatened someone with a knife for the first time and saw his first stab. “I was in a youth club, and someone right next to me got stung, blood all over the floor, boom, boom, boom,” he said.
At 14, Krauze was arrested for the first time after being caught stealing videotapes. He began to spend more time on the South Kilburn Estate with his friends, in part to escape his mother’s gaze. At 17, he was embroiled in so many run-ins with violence and the law that he started writing it down – on scraps of paper, in cell phones – insisting he would someday make it. a book. At a hearing, he joked with his lawyer about the books he should read in prison.