The Dirty South; Alex Wheatle

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“One of the most exciting writers of the black urban experience.”— The Times (London) The mean streets of south London offer little hope for young black guys. Selling drugs, on the other hand, offers quick money and respect. Dennis Huggins finds himself drawn into the spiral in this powerful portrayal of gang life.

January 1, 2008


About the Author

Alex Alphonso Wheatle MBE (3 January 1963) is an award winning black British novelist of Jamaican heritage and has been described as one of the UK’s most exciting writers.
Wheatle spent much of his childhood in a Surrey children's home. At sixteen he was a founder member of the Crucial Rocker sound system and his DJ name was Yardman Irie. He wrote lyrics about his observations of everyday Brixton life. By 1980 Wheatle was residing in a social services hostel in Brixton, South London. He witnessed and lived through the 1981 Brixton riots, its precursors and aftermath. Wheatle was briefly incarcerated following the Brixton riots. While serving his sentence he read authors like Chester Himes, Richard Wright, C. L. R. James and John Steinbeck. He once built speaker boxes for local sound systems to help him through unemployment.
He has since been called upon to talk on the subject of the Brixton riots, most prominently in the 2006 BBC programme "Battle for Brixton". His early books are based on experiences from his life living in Brixton as a teenager and his time in social services care.
Wheatle was awarded London Arts Board New Writers Award for East of Acre Lane.
In 2008, Wheatle was awarded the MBE for services to literature in the Queen's Birthday Honours list.
He now visits schools, colleges, universities, libraries and prisons facilitating creative writing classes and performing inspiring speeches. He has also narrated an audio guide to the streets of Brixton for soundmap.
He is a member of English PEN.
Wheatle's debut novel, Brixton Rock, was adapted for the stage and performed at the Young Vic in July 2010.
He wrote and performed UPRISING, a one man play based on his own life at TARA ARTS STUDIOS, Wandsworth, London.
Wheatle lives in London.


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