‘An exhilarating, tragic tale and a terrific debut’ – Financial Times

“When you’re fifteen everything matters. I’m not just talking about the obvious stuff: what music you like, who your crew is, whatever. I mean everything. All the little details. The way you carry your bag, the way you wear your jeans. The way you tie your shoes, the way you walk in your shoes, the kind of shoes you’re wearing. The way you cut your hair, the way you wear your hat. Where you cross the road – Traffic lights and zebra crossings are for pussies, bruv – to where you sit on the bus. Your postcode, your estate, your school … You try living this life and see if it don’t make you a little … tense.”

Turf is the story of Jay. Jay’s about to turn sixteen – that means it’s time for him to graduate to the Blake Street Boyz’ Olders. And that means passing an initiation. But it’s an extreme task; one that makes Jay question if being in the gang is really as good as it had always seemed to be.


As Jay comes to terms with the task he’s been set his world begins to unravel around him. He begins to discover that some decisions are more complicated than right and wrong, and some outcomes more important than life and death.

‘Lucas cleverly contrasts the banality of school life with the brutal code of the streets. An exhilarating, tragic tale and a terrific debut’ – Financial Times
‘A powerful and unsettling novel, Turf’s biggest success is its protagonist, a character as misunderstood, complex and terrifying as the world he must flee’ – Observer
‘An unusual and original novel’ – Independent on Sunday
‘This compelling story sheds light on the lives of a group of disaffected young people, for whom life is cheap and belonging to a gang is everything. An astounding and thought-provoking novel’ – Booktrust
‘Turf is a fantastic, heartbreaking, emotional and gritty novel. Utterly realistic and completely devastating – one of the best novels I’ve read this year’ – The Review Diaries
‘An exceptionally powerful debut novel; John Lucas is a writer to watch’ – Books for Keeps
‘Jay makes for a lively, intelligent, wryly funny narrator. The fact he can see the hopelessness of his situation makes his tragic trajectory all the more poignant’ – Metro
‘A harrowing but illuminating read’ – Bookbag