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Summary

In 21st century Britain, what does it mean to be working class? This book asks 24 working class writers to examine the issue as it relates to them. 

Examining representation, literature, sexuality, gender, art, employment, poverty, childhood, culture and politics, this book is a broad and firsthand account of what it means to be drawn from the bottom of Britain's archaic but persistent class structure.

©2017 Nathan Connolly (P)2018 Audible, Ltd

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What listeners say about Know Your Place

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A wonderful polyphonic book, highly recommended.

This fantastic collection offers real insight into lives that often pass unseen and unheard, because it suits our society to imagine that those we don't hear are somehow lesser or ignorant rather than systematically suppressed. There is so much joy, anger, passion and talent in these pieces I am keen to search out the other books by these authors.I learned an enormous amount from these essays, although this was absorbed under the radar as the enjoyment of the narrative was always the prime factor. In this instance the choice of readers enhances the essays, unlike many other audible books. I really can't recommend this enough. If you read to open a door on other people's experience then this book kicks that wide open for you.
More of this please publishers and audible!

5 people found this helpful

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fantastic

Working class authors speaking for themselves. Give it a listen if you're reading this review.

1 person found this helpful

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  • LC
  • 09-12-19

Interesting snapshots into what working class means to the authors

I found it interesting to hear what these authors had chosen to write about as a representation of working class. There were some strong themes. I wonder how representative the essays are of common opinions of what working class means to people that identity themselves as working class, and how much influence the selection process had.

1 person found this helpful

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Actual voice of the working class

Unlike what you hear about on the news, this is the plurality of working class voices and dispels myths of the scrounger narrative and the idea of bigotry coming from below, not above.

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Important, interesting a must for everyone

Absolutely excellent book. As a working class female who has had the benefit of social mobility, I often find that those around me do not understand the hurdles that working class people have to overcome to be lucky enough to have the benefit of social mobility.

I am proud of my background but at many times I’ve been made to feel ashamed. This book spoke to me on many levels and highlights things I’ve experienced with many ‘yes! I’m not the only one who feels like that’ moments.

Class is often a blanket term and those from the working classes are often brushed over. These important, interesting stories should be heard by everyone.

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Bloody Brilliant

Absolutely loved this! I could relate to so many of the chapters and learnt a lot about changing political landscapes. I will share this far and wide! The world needs to hear our voices 🙌

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Mixed

Two provisos before my review. I am one generation removed from the working class, and I am writing this in 2021.

The essays are very mixed. There are rich, vivid, and thought-provoking stories of work, challenges, and pleasure. There are also passages and sometimes whole essays where the working class writers are indistinguishable from the intellectual elite in regurgitating the critical race theory-type oppression narrative.

Wherever the essays stray into party politics, they are uniformally anti-Conservative. Given the relative breadth of support for the Conservatives among the 'CDE' socioeconomic groups, this is a huge missed opportunity, and suggests that the editor is not looking for a valid, representative sample of working class thinking.

Overall here are the good, the bad, and the ugly, with the remainder of the essays falling somewhere in-between.

The good:
Yvonne Singh - a compelling description of the pleasures of the seaside from a working class perspective.
Dominic Grace - a loving discussion of drinking house traditions.
Wally Jiagoo - an nuanced and for me enlightening perspective on benefits, which challenged my own prejudices on the subject.
Cath Bore - a detailed and very interesting description of the job of cleaning, a particularly interesting topic for me due to my family history.
Catherine O'Flynn - a poignant story about the power of childhood heroes to shape us. Probably the best section of the book.

The bad:

Abondance Matanda - starts off as a promising insight into a culture of home video-watching, but quickly degenerates into nothing more than a depressing insight into the insular, paranoid world-view of the author.

Rebecca Winson - a communist rant which lacks rationality, perspective, and good grace. If you want to read something which puts you off Left-wing politics, I would advise this essay.

The ugly:
Sylvia Arthur - a sad story about a middle-class woman who is disappointed by life in the UK and succeeds in Belgium. It ends with the author, bitterness leeching from every sentence, condemning her own country as too racist to provide opportunities to ethnic minority people, and advising non-white people to seek opportunities abroad, in countries survey after survey indicates are on average more racist.

In summary, if you are looking for interesting stories about underrepresented people, and are prepared to sit through tedious woke filler, I would advise this audiobook. Otherwise, there are better ways you can spend 6 hours of your life.

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Brilliant

Know Your Place is a great anthology from Dead Ink Books looking at what it means to be working class in 21st century Britain. Each essay comes at the topic from a different angle and I really loved the variety of voices. I particularly loved the essays by Andrew McMillan, Rebecca Winson, Kit de Waal, Kath McKay and Sian Norris. It worked brilliantly as an audio edition with several different readers.

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Entertaining and thought-provoking

Some of the stories were serious while others were hilarious. A very well produced recording.