Poverty Safari tops vote of most rebellious reads of the 21st Century

Author Darren McGarvey
Category: Press Releases

Poverty Safari, the best-selling memoir about growing up in Glasgow by writer and performer Darren McGarvey, aka Loki, 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 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 Davis

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.”


Notes to Editors

Initiated by the Scottish Government and supported by £200,000 from the National Lottery through Creative Scotland Targeted Funding and £26,000 from SLIC, Book Week Scotland 2018 will be delivered by Scottish Book Trust from 19 November – 25 November.

For more information about Book Week Scotland 2018 and how you can get involved, visit www.bookweekscotland.com where you can find information about all the events taking place in your local area.

For more information or images please contact Keara Donnachie, Press Officer, on Keara.Donnachie@scottishbooktrust.com or 0131 524 0184 or Christopher Silver, Press Officer, on Christopher.Silver@Scottishbooktrust.com or 0131 524 0160


Scottish Book Trust is a national charity changing lives through reading and writing. We inspire and support the people of Scotland to read and write for pleasure though programmes and outreach work that include:

  • Gifting books to every child in Scotland to ensure families of all backgrounds can share the joy of books at home.
  • Working with teachers to inspire children to develop a love of reading, creating innovative classroom activities, book awards and author events.
  • Supporting Scotland’s diverse writing community with our training, awards and writing opportunities.
  • Funding a range of author events for the public to enjoy and promoting Scottish writing to people worldwide.

www.scottishbooktrust.com     @scottishbktrust        www.facebook.com/scottishbktrust

For more information about Book Week Scotland, visit www.bookweekscotland.com. Follow @Bookweekscot on Twitter, check out #bookweekscotland or like the Book Week Scotland Facebook page.


In addition to general fundraising, Scottish Book Trust receives Creative Scotland support through Regular Funding. 

Creative Scotland is the public body that supports the arts, screen and creative industries across all parts of Scotland on behalf of everyone who lives, works or visits here. We enable people and organisations to work in and experience the arts, screen and creative industries in Scotland by helping others to develop great ideas and bring them to life. We distribute funding provided by the Scottish Government and the National Lottery. For further information about Creative Scotland please visit www.creativescotland.com. Follow us @creativescots and www.facebook.com/CreativeScotland.