Real Liverpool is Niall Griffiths' antidote to some of mawkish twaddle that has marked Liverpool's year as European City of Culture. Griffiths' love/hate relationship with the city of his birth is central to the book.
He explores the various facets of the city – its maritime and merchant histories, class divisions, sectarian divides, Celtic influences, and the siege mentality underpinning the celebrated Scouse humour. Nor does he flinch from Liverpool's dark side: the money from the slave trade, the drugs, the urban blight, the fallout from Thatcherism, the internecine violence. Jamie Bulger, Heysel, Hillsborough, the Dockers' Strike, the Toxteth Riots, all of these and more are discussed.
Real Liverpool is underscored by a strong autobiographical element which details the author's birth and formative years in the city, his movement away from it, the abiding pull it exerts. In addition, Griffiths interviews many people connected closely to the city, from personal friends and family members to artists and workers. From the Wirral to Warrington, Anfield to Everton, Bootle to Diddyland, Griffiths criss-crosses the city by the Ferry and through the Tunnels, from John Lennon airport to the racecourse and down the docks, building a picture of a city which, whatever its faults, is never dull.
An award-winning novelist, Niall Griffiths is a regular reviewer for The Guardian and a commentator on contemporary writing for a number of magazines.