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Poverty Safari

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  3,273 ratings  ·  318 reviews
People from deprived communities all around Britain feel misunderstood and unheard. Darren McGarvey, aka 'Loki' gives voice to their feelings and concerns, and the anger that is spilling over. Anger he says we will have to get used to, unless things change.

He invites you to come on a Safari of sorts. A Poverty Safari. But not the sort where the indigenous species is surve
Paperback, 224 pages
Published November 2nd 2017 by Luath Press
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Average rating 4.03  · 
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 ·  3,273 ratings  ·  318 reviews

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Feb 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018, scotland, uk, non-fiction
A very honest commentary of both experience and thought

1 - Change is good
2 - Not everything/everyone you don't understand/relate to is bad or has bad intentions
3 - Admitting you are wrong, accepting other opinions & Lifestyles and CHANGE is the most radical thing you can do!
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I don't really know what I was expecting when I went into this, but I was left disappointed anyway. I suppose I was looking for a social commentary on the working class and poverty stricken people of Britain, but this read more like a political statement.

Granted, it was better than a channel 5 documentary that exploits the vulnerable, but I didn't really find it all that interesting either. Good intentions, but it didn't really de
Fiona Welch
Jan 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I strongly recommend this book for anyone looking for fresh thinking on poverty in modern Britain/Scotland. The author is very honest about his own experiences and thinking, but of course doesn't guarantee that he's right on everything, and the reflective nature of his writing is both a strength and weakness of the book means that he ends up contradicting himself more than once. IMO, this is a book encouraging the reader to challenge their own ego and assumptions, so if you are reading this in t ...more
Jul 25, 2018 rated it liked it
After reading a number of articles both by and about Darren McGarvey, I must admit that I went into Poverty Safari with high expectations. It’s perhaps because of these expectations that I came away from the book feeling a little disappointed.

Before I go any further with actually reviewing the content of Poverty Safari, allow me first to state that McGarvey writes extremely well. The first few pages of his book are dedicated to his love of writing, and walk the reader through how, from a very y
Jul 05, 2018 rated it did not like it
I gave up at the 75% mark.

McGarvey opens the book with a warning. He doesn't read much. And he likes big words. So he's going to write the sort of book he would like to see in the world -- one you don't have to read in chronological order, and you can jump around to whatever section you want to read.

And you get what he promises. Disjointed chapters that run along without any connection. We flit from topic to topic, without any sense of building. And McGarvey uses the word "outwith" several times
Pete Mac
Dec 17, 2017 rated it it was ok
The book start of very well with a powerful description of living with an abusive mother. The author really excels at describing unsettling, moving scenes and his personal experiences of poverty.
There is an interesting section on identity politics and the intersection with class (which is often ignored).

However, the book falls down when it comes to analysis and solutions. It seems there is an attempt to write this book for everyone but the left. There is no mention of low pay, of exploitation
Ophelia Sings
Dec 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Everyone should read this book.

Rather histrionic, perhaps, but the truth. Shocking, visceral, angry and anger-inducing, Poverty Safari shines a light into the darkest corners of society, highlighting the forgotten, the overlooked. If we have anything about us, we should see this book as a rallying call; it is surely time, as Grenfell still smoulders and the queues at the food banks snake ever longer, to examine where we as a society are going wrong.

Fluently and beautifully written, Poverty Safa
Jack Greenwood
Poverty Safari challenges you to think about why you think what you think and what impact that might have on your perceptions of, and actions within, society. In an increasingly polarised nation, the capacity for self-reflection and introspection are those that will enable us to reach compromise.

Darren McGarvey is a voice I enjoyed hearing from, one that is not often afforded the chance to make an extended case for his beliefs in public. He engages with a vast array of societal challenges from
Jan 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
'Poverty Safari' caught my eye on the library shelf, then the blurb convinced me to read it. McGarvey grew up in poverty in Glasgow, and I've been thinking that this year I want to read more about Scotland. Since I live here and all. While the book definitely gives an insight into life in a deprived part of Glasgow, it also has a great deal to say about poverty more generally. McGarvey is an articulate and considered writer, analytical and compassionate in his dissection of poverty as he and oth ...more
Removed my initial rating of three stars and leaving this unrated. It’s not bad, but it’s definitely not what it was sold as in the blurb. I’m on holiday and sans laptop, so this’ll be a quick bullet point review:

- this book is (as McGarvey describes it himself) part “misery memoir” about his childhood growing up with an alcoholic mother in a poor area of Glasgow, sharing his own personal anecdotal experiences of what poverty means in late 20th century Scotland (he was 33 at the time of writing
Mar 20, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
An interesting book and I am glad that I read it. Many of the arguments within it are not new, but are no less valid because of that. I agree wholeheartedly that a major stress that many people feel is a lack of control in the lives, and anything which can help them take individual control of their lives will be to their benefit, and ultimately to the benefit of us all. The points made about the importance of listening other peoples point of view were worth making too. The danger here is that ma ...more
Feb 14, 2020 rated it liked it
"write what you know" is solid advice. McGarvey makes statistics touchable by the misfortune of his own family. Take all the tags from "alcohol" to "teenage" and out of 5 persons, 3 or more will apply.

It's his bitter proof against the populist right as well as the Left, whose socioeconomic abstractions cannot appeal anymore.

He cannot exactly offer solutions and if you are not British, more Guardian style statistical context would be welcome...

... Update : Owen Jones' "Chavs: the demonization of
Joy Lamb
Feb 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An incredibly thought provoking book. In my opinion worth far more than 5 stars. A must read for everyone,in particular those of us on the left. The author challenges a lot of long held beliefs in a sometimes brutal way.
Aug 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
“Class issues are concealed beneath a progressive veneer as identity politics becomes another vehicle for the socially mobile to dominate every aspect of public life.”

Hailing from the same neck of the woods as Frankie Boyle, Pollok in the southside of Glasgow, McGarvey is a powerful blend of confronting honesty with a common sense approach to politics, falling somewhere between Owen Jones and Akala. McGarvey is rarely the type of voice that gets to be taken seriously in the mainstream media, the
May 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Another book to challenge my way of thinking and leftish leanings. So much of this makes sense, and is compelling reading. It left me feeling pessimistic, however, despite all the reviews saying the contrary. The chasm between middle and working class experiences and expectations is so very wide, I don't see how things will ever change.
Mark Smith
Jan 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
My wife shared the Kindle edition of Poverty Safari with me, maybe a year ago. I managed to completely ignore it until I needed to do some research last month and since then have been working my way slowly through.

I found this a difficult book to read. Not because of how it's written, this is one of the most eloquent and clearly written books I've ever read. The book starts simply enough with Darren McGarvey telling his story of a life lived in poverty. I finally opened the book hoping to unders
Jan 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Winner of the Orwell Prize in 2018, this is a book written in a fine Orwellian tradition of honesty, originality and clarity. Like Orwell, Darren McGarvey 'has a facility with words and a power of facing unpleasant facts', giving insight with pathos and identifying hypocrisy deftly. Also like Orwell, McGarvey is not afraid to take on the Left and find credit where it is due in would-be opponents, whilst riling against the theft of personal agency characteristic on this side of the political divi ...more
Steven Pilling
Dec 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is important it doesnt pull punches , takes you on a tour of life beyond the newspaper headlines.

Its passionate , funny and yes angry . The writing is clipped but poetic .
Dec 23, 2018 rated it liked it
There is lots that I really enjoyed here, but the structure proved somewhat frustrating: it is only until the second half of the book, and really, the very last chapter that McGarvey seems to really spell out his most important point (and the most important lesson he’s learnt for his own life): that of taking personal responsibility.

In McGarvey's defence, he explains why he’s done it this way: he’s seen many a “sympathetic” ear suddenly close up when he starts to offer views critical to typical
Oct 06, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2018
Admittedly, I was a little suspicious when I notices the endorsements by the Financial Times and this being a Sunday Times bestseller. But as I am trying to be more open minded (lol, kidding, I am not, open mind just invites all sorts of propaganda) I gave this a go.

"Poverty Safari - Understanding the anger of Britain's underclass" (2017). With the Guardian finding this to be 'one of the best accounts of working-class life'.

The first half is an interesting enough account of life in deprivation a
Wan Ling
Jul 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
an honest account of a life shaped by poverty.

key takeaways:
- the reality of poverty and its lasting impacts on individuals
- the importance of involving the people whose causes we're championing in the decision-making process. good intentions only go so far.
- self awareness, critically cross-examining your own beliefs and being willing to admit wrongs + apologise.. always
- address the psychosocial drivers that underpin contentious views e.g. racism
- politics is not the antidote. what can we chan
Nov 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Poverty Safari by Darren McGarvey unsettled me to my core. Part autobiography, part social commentary, McGarvey shares his experience of being born and raised by an alcoholic mother and a father who does his best in impossible circumstances, in one of the most deprived areas of Glasgow. Having worked as a food bank volunteer in the past, I thought I understood something of the stressful and chaotic lives the poorest in our society endure. However, McGarvey questions all I thought I knew. Eloquen ...more
Feb 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: recommend
A read that really had me questioning how I think about modern day class in Britain, as well as my own politics (which I wasn't expecting going into it). Particularly unexpected (and powerful as a result) were McGarvey's arguments in favour of personal accountability:

'You are no use to any family, community, cause or movement unless you are first able to manage, maintain and operate the machinery of your own life. These are the means of production that one must first seize before meaningful chan
Kate Dearden
Dec 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“There is no question that the current economic system is riddled with contradiction, inequity and corruption. But in some sections on the left, you’d be forgiven for thinking that all was required was a quick coup d’etat and the seemingly insoluble problems we face as individuals, families and communities and countries would disappear. By encouraging people to believe that their immediate problems are beyond their own expertise, the very agency poverty deprived them of is denied.”
Finn Mannerings
Apr 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A deeply personal inquest into social class in modern Britain. The left and the right are justifiably critiqued for their attitudes and the idea of personal development is foregrounded. It is refreshing to read something that encouraged me to look inward before looking at all other issues.
Harley Wykes
Really insightful book on poverty in modern Britain, specifically Glasgow. I wish everyone would read it to get a better understanding of the complex causes of poverty. Also, this book is delighfully critical of the 'politically correct' left from an author who still very much considers himself a leftie.
Jan 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: society
Poverty Safari starts with an account of something that's becoming very familiar to me: going into a prison to run a group (I teach mindfulness). What McGarvey adds to my understanding of that situation is an insider's understanding of the dynamics at play for the prisoners: their wariness, search for nonverbal cues, alertness for threats, concern to salvage prides, and the ambient influence of stress.

McGarvey is an insider not because he has spent time in prison but because he is proudly Glasg
Apr 19, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2019-reads

Sometimes I wonder why I seem to swim against the tide of popular opinion about some books. With Poverty Safari by Darren McGarvey, I'm swimming against a tsunami of praise that suggests the author is some kind of generational spokesman. I really object to the praise heaped upon this book is that it feels like a whole lot of misplaced middle-class projection.

I laud McGarvey for his open discussion of the deep and severe trauma he experienced in his family growing up, and I have no doubt t
Fredrikke Wongraven
this book was truly thought provoking.
i like how mcgarvey challenges the way we think about other people, it really made me realize how little i actually know about other people, that it is all based on presumptions and assumptions.

mcgarvey shows a lot of perspective and i found his view on the british left interesting.
his story is compelling and the way he is able to reflect is very nuanced.

it really digs deep into thoughts we probably all have had about class.
this is a book i will definitely
Hannah Frost
Jan 25, 2020 rated it liked it
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Darren McGarvey (born 1984), aka Loki, grew up in Pollok, Glasgow. He is a writer, performer, columnist and former rapper-in-residence at Police Scotland's Violence Reduction Unit. He has presented eight programmes for BBC Scotland exploring the root causes of anti-social behaviour and social deprivation.

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“This is because the conversation about poverty is usually dominated by people with little direct experience of being poor.” 3 likes
“What else annoys you about Glasgow?’ I ask. ‘Immigrants,’ says one, to which the other nods in agreement. ‘What is it about immigrants that annoys you?’ I ask. ‘They come here and take jobs and houses when we have enough homeless people on our streets.’ ‘They rape people.’ ‘They shouldn’t be allowed to speak in their own language.’ ‘If they are running away from a war then maybe they should stay in their own countries and fight?’ ‘If they hate Britain then why come here?’ Within two minutes, these normally mute, unresponsive, passive-aggressive boys suddenly spring to life and reveal to me an issue they are not only passionate about but clearly believe themselves to be knowledgeable on. It’s just a shame they are racist. Racist attitudes like these, often learned at home, are carried into adulthood before being passed on to the next generation. Which is why many are anxious about conceding ground to people with ‘legitimate’ concerns about immigration.” 3 likes
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