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The Young Team: Granta Best of Young British Novelists 2023

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There are a lot of really interesting insights into classism in Scotland and Graeme emphasises that the people in this situation are no less intelligent than anyone else, even though people treat them like they are. They just haven’t had the chance at life, or the tools to give them the chance at life, that other people have. They have to fight to get out of a dead-end life. From gangs, booze and blade culture to an award-winning writer with a TV deal, Graeme has come a long way from his life in the scheme. More than anything, he hopes his book helps other people on the path to a better future. Azzy Williams. He cares. Deep down, he does. The hash numbs you. Daily smoking does that to you. Azzy Williams gets into fights. He gets hurt, his friends get hurt, and the passage of time leads to what was once a comforting drinking spot with your pals, the cemetery, to being the only place you’ll ever see them again. How did you get here?

Graeme Armstrong on The Young Team, gang - The Skinny Graeme Armstrong on The Young Team, gang - The Skinny

This TV adaptation of Graeme Armstrong’s novel will follow Azzy during three crucial years of his life. It will view the world through his eyes as he navigates Scottish masculinity, gang violence, substance abuse, mental health, male suicide and murder. Transitioning from adolescence into manhood, Azzy faces the biggest battle of all – the fight for a different future. Armstrong encapsulates all of this perfectly. The mentality, the social insistence, the substances, the violence. He describes everything to the point of near nostalgia, yet adds explanations and added pressure which we never would have guessed our boys to be suffering; but, of course, they must have been. The drive of masculine conformity is a strong one, and dangerously precarious.Perfectly captured the “ned” and rave culture in Scotland in and around 2005 onwards. It went beyond the stereotype and showed us people who get involved in violent territorial gangs do so for the brotherhood, sense of belonging and status within “the scheme”. News Graeme Armstrong on The Young Team, leaving the gang life behind and his journey to literary success

Book review: The Young Team, by Graeme Armstrong - The Scotsman

Graeme Armstrong is a Scottish writer from Airdrie. His teenage years were spent within North Lanarkshire’s gang culture. He was inspired to study English Literature following his reading of Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting at just sixteen. Alongside overcoming his own struggles with drug addiction, alcohol abuse and violence, he defied expectation to read English as an undergraduate at the University of Stirling; where, after graduating with honours, he returned to study a Masters’ in Creative Writing.Round here, in the schemes of the forgotten industrial heartland of Scotland, your mates, your young team – they’re everything. Despite the success of Irvine Welsh – “the toughest and roughest renderer of dialect I’ve ever read,” states Armstrong – publishers were still unsure if The Young Team could work outside a Scottish market. But the novel’s vernacular isn’t just a stylistic decision, it’s inseparable from Azzy’s – and Armstrong’s – world. “It’s the way I talk, the way I think and the language of my community.” It is impossible not to feel sympathy for those trapped in the confines of this life, and to feel admiration for those who make their way out of it.

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