'A genuinely impressive debut. Boxer Handsome does everything great fiction should... revealing a world that most people will never even think about. If you can't see what it is that people need from boxing, or why it somehow persists into the 21st century, then read this' -- Guardian
Boxing runs in Bobby’s blood. His Irish dad was a boxer. So was his Jewish grandfather. Yanked up by their collars at Clapton Bow Boys Club, taught how to box and stay out of trouble.
So Bobby knows he shouldn’t be messing in street brawls a week before his big fight with Connor ‘the Gypsy Boy’, an Irish traveller from around the way. They’re fighting over Theresa: a traveller girl with Connor’s name all over her. But Bobby’s handsome, like his dad; boxer handsome.
Set against the backdrop of contemporary East-End London, Boxer Handsome is an unsung hymn to tribal boxing history and to an angry and austere Britain, a community up against itself, ‘all fighting a corner; all fighting for space. All up for a fight.’
For Bobby, the ring is everywhere and he can’t afford to lose.
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Anna Whitwham's first novel does not read like a first novel. It is lean, polished and fit as its subject. The pleasure of reading the book is the sense throughout of a safe pair of hands at work on an unsafe subject – and a challenging city. This is a less-written-about London: depressed, tough and gallant (one can imagine it as a film by Ken Loach). - Observer, Debut Authors of 2014
A raw and bloody book... Whitwham is an accomplished writer with a gift for description... I expect this will be the first of many novels from her. Boxer Handsome is powerful if gruelling. - Evening Standard
This story is just as much about territory and escaping who you are, as it is about boxing. Full of sober realism and broken dreams, she's got the sort of narrative that would make Shane Meadows sit up. - The Times
Anna Whitwham's own East Side Story, set between two rival families in Clapton, is a vivid evocation of the worlds of old and new London, of the tribal immigrant experience built between boxing gym, tenement and canal bank. By turns brutal and beautiful, tender and dangerous, Boxer Handsome is a visceral and luminous debut. - Cathi Unsworth, author of Weirdo
About the Author
Anna Whitwham was born in 1981 in London, where she still lives. She studied Drama and English at the University of California, Los Angeles, Queens University Belfast and at Royal Holloway, London. Boxer Handsome is her first novel. It is a world Anna knows well: her grandfather, John Poppy, was a young featherweight boxer at Crown & Manor Boys Club in Hoxton. He is the inspiration behind this book.