The 1992 Los Angeles Riots: six days of looting, arson, assault and murder. America's second largest city in chaos.In All Involved, Ryan Gattis weaves a heart-stopping narrative from the perspectives of characters whose stories of the riots were never told. In six sections, each covering a single day, we follow the intersecting lives of seventeen people: gang members, firefighters, nurses, law enforcement officers and graffiti artists, every one changed for ever.Though the events of All Involved are fictional, every word is infused with authenticity and intimacy. A propulsive and ambitious novel as electrifying as the television series The Wire, this is a mesmerizing epic of crime and opportunity, race, revenge and loyalty.
All Involved by Ryan Gattis is published by Picador on 21 May 2015.
All Involved ~ slang for someone participating in gang activity
All Involved takes place over six days during the Los Angeles riots of 1992. Here we are, over twenty years later and America seems to be experiencing the same kind of emotions and reactions to the same kind of incidents, all over again. As yet, there have been no large-scale riots, but it is clear that feelings are still running high, and I doubt it would take much more for rioting to break out once again. I guess that Delgado; a lead character, may be pretty spot-on with his guess of another riot taking place in 2022 "or before, I dunno".
All Involved is a potent, addictive, disturbing and violent story. Ryan Gattis explores the underbelly of Los Angeles, and it is so obvious that he has really really done some fine research. I'm no expert on gang-land politics, but for me, this novel feels right. The author doesn't hold back at all, the reader is enveloped from the start, into the violence and fear that ruled the streets. The descriptions of both the crimes committed and the reasoning of the people committing them are brutal and overwhelming, and certainly not for the faint hearted.
Whilst there is no doubt that All Involved is a work of fiction, Ryan Gattis has talked to many people involved directly in LA in 1992, and from these conversations, he has created a mix of characters. These are people that live in what could be described as a parallel universe, so unlike anything that the majority of us will ever experience. Despite this, and despite the fact that I personally would run for miles in the other direction if I ever came face to face with a character from this book, the author finds something within each one that makes them appear more human.
No sixteen-year-old girl that I ever came across acts like Payassa; she's unforgiving, calculated and violent, yet the reader cannot help but kind of understand her, and her actions - even if admitting to liking her may be going just a little too far.
All Involved is told in different voices, but each story overlaps, and some characters appear in another character's part. This is a great tool that creates a sense of familiarity for the reader, almost a little bit of ownership.
All Involved is not easy, it's dangerous and dark and complicated and horrific at times. However, it is intuitive and bold and could easily spark off some riots of its own making.
Ryan Gattis doesn't make this an easy read by any means, but he has created a 'must-read'. Prepare yourself for some heart-wrenching moments as you watch hunted and desperate characters destroy their home, and themselves, bit by bit.
Ryan Gattis is a writer, Creative Writing lecturer, co-founder of a publishing collective and a member and Creative Director of a street art collective.
He earned an MA in Creative Writing Prose from UEA and currently lives in Los Angeles.
Follow him on Twitter @Ryan_Gattis