Non-fictional treatments of poverty and inequality have gained a major presence on the British book market in recent years. Like fiction, this segment offers reading for different interests and in different modes of writing. Non-fiction may be more strictly fact-based than fiction, but it is aware that facts — and notably statistics — are subject to interpretation. The examples in this chapter demonstrate that this interpretation should approach poverty with a certain amount of sensitivity, especially with regard to the individual human beings who experience it and the individual stories they tell. Case studies include Owen Jones’s Chavs and some contributions to the Penguin Lines series.


factuality Owen Jones non-fiction 


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  1. 3.
    Even more pointed is the claim of David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu’s more recent The Body Economic: Why Austerity Kills (2013), which postulates that austerity measures have a negative effect on people’s health and life expectancy.Google Scholar
  2. 5.
    See Paul Krugman, The Conscience of a Liberal (2007; and his eponymous blog)Google Scholar
  3. Joseph Stiglitz, The Price of Inequality (2012; Stieglitz chairs the Brooks World Poverty Institute at the University of Manchester)Google Scholar
  4. Jeffrey D. Sachs, The End of Poverty (2005)Google Scholar
  5. Amartya Sen, The Idea of Justice (2009)Google Scholar
  6. Peter Singer, The Life You Can Save (2009)Google Scholar
  7. Paul Collier, The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries Are Failing and What Can Be Done About It (2007).Google Scholar
  8. 6.
    Boo’s book has more than 27,000 ratings, 4,800 reviews and 36 editions recorded on Goodreads as of December 2013. Arguably, the cover of the UK edition was designed to have a special appeal for a British readership since it seems to make a connection with the success of a British blockbuster film about Indian poverty, Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire (2008). The cover photograph calls to mind an episode early in the film during which security guards chase boys from an airfield. It features a boy running away from something, and towards a set of stairs, on top of which other young boys are waiting. Like Boyle’s film, the photo suggests agency and an element of hope since the boy is running towards a light source. The American cover, by contrast, features the image of a child in front of dilapidated shacks and a pool of presumably unclean water. The child’s head is jolted towards the sky, invoking a higher power.Google Scholar

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© Barbara Korte and Georg Zipp 2014

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  • Barbara Korte
  • Georg Zipp

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