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Common People review – a valuable anthology of working-class writers

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Edited by Kit de Waal, these essays, memoirs, stories and poems from established and new writers come straight from the heart

This important collection brings together 34 working-class writers “in celebration, not apology”. There are essays, memoirs, stories and poetry, and most come from the heart. Louise Doughty tells of her aspirational, hard-working father, who left school at 13 and thought ITV and blue jeans were common. Stuart Maconie returns to his childhood home and recalls night-time football, slow-cooked steak and housing projects that almost lived up to their grandly utopian aims.

Previously unpublished writers also shine. Astra Bloom’s tale of a girl’s bittersweet moment of glory after she wins a writing competition is touching and beautifully told. Loretta Ramkissoon anchors her reminiscence around a tower block’s shared lifts, whose cold interiors nurture community spirit, decades of small talk building into something special as the floors rush by.

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