'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.
"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." -- Bella Bathurst Guardian "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)." -- Kate Kellaway Observer, Debut Authors of 2014 "Bristles with machismo... The prose - punchy and pungent - and Boby's terse, frustrated voice keep you in your ringside seat" New Statesman "A familial connection gives this exciting debut an authenticity, which allied to a confident writing style, suggests Whitwham has a promising future ahead of her. Whitwham's writing is as sharp as a one-two combination, short punchy sentences that capture effectively the brooding atmosphere of the East End. But the book is tender, too, a change of pace that deepens the emotional resonance of the characters. A promising debut." -- Flemmich Webb Independent "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." -- Rosamund Urwin Evening Standard
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.