'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.
For Bobby, the ring is everywhere and he can’t afford to lose.
Outstanding and compelling... Called to mind the prose of the great Nell Dunn and reminded me of the vital, good fighter that the novel form is
Boxer Handsome tells the story of young Clapton boxer, Bobby, in the run up to the fight of his career. Whitwham is pitch-perfect on physicality, brutality and the pressures of masculinity at the heart of the sport, as well as authentically depicting a working-class community.
A genuinely impressive debut. Boxer Handsome does everything great fiction should, offering up characters who stay with the reader long after the end of the book, giving an almost filmic vision of places and people, and 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.
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).
Bristles with machismo... The prose – punchy and pungent – and Boby’s terse, frustrated voice keep you in your ringside seat