Liccle Bit

Alex Wheatle

Nominated for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2016
Voted One of The Best Young Adult Novels Of 2015 By The Telegraph

Liccle Bit

‘What a gripping tale of family and friends, love and loyalty… Lemar’s voice is so strong and I loved the humour in it too.’ Malorie Blackman, Children’s Laureate

‘This first young-adult novel from an award-winning black British writer is a treat. Breathing new life into a genre currently obsessed with vampires, dystopian visions or mawkishly sentimental stories, this tale set in a contemporary high-rise estate is topical and also a triumph of language… Wise as well as witty, understanding rather than blinkered, this novel is a joy to read.’ Independent

‘”Some girl called me Liccle Bit in Year 7 and it stuck,” says 14-year-old Lemar, the protagonist of Alex Wheatle’s debut YA novel. The humour is strong and edgy. A boy called McKay teases Liccle Bit about his “Oompa-Loompa height and slavery days haircut”. Someone overweight is called a “fat salad-hater”. The novel shows how easy it is for an inner-city youngster to get drawn into a bad situation. Manjaro, who manipulated Lemar, is a menacing gang figure. Although the parts about a turf war on an estate are very bleak (victims of killings are referred to as having been “deleted” or “blazed”) the book does contain strong messages about love and loyalty. And hats off to designer Sophie Burdess and illustrator Dan Evans for an arresting front cover.’ Telegraph, Best YA Books of 2015

‘Ultimately, my favourite book of this season has to be Liccle Bit, the first novel for young adults by Alex Wheatle, author of Brixton Rock. It’s not for nothing that he was named the Brixton Bard. This is a book that sings with warmth, in spite of its tough setting – in the midst of a gang war – and contains lines that dance. Liccle Bit is the second shortest guy in his year and has the hots for Venetia King, though he knows that “fit girls don’t usually go for short brothers”. But his sister’s ex, Manjoro, wants him to do a “liccle errand” for him, and then another, and when there’s a killing on the estate, he worries that he is embroiled. A gritty delight – a liccle smile on every page.’ Herald Scotland

‘The novel is a triumph in observational writing, accurately capturing the rhythms and flavours of Black British life. The dialogue is witty, fast and very funny, adding to the tragedy of the action that sees Lemar drawn from being a “good boy”, to one who gets in deep with gang life.’ Huffington Post

‘my favourite book of this season … sings with warmth in spite of its tough setting …a gritty delight – a liccle smile on every page’ Sunday Herald

The second shortest 14 year old in his class, Lemar – Liccle Bit to his friends – feels he may never get a chance with Venetia, the hottest girl in school. At home life is crazy too with a mother too busy to pay him any attention, a sister with a foul temper and a baby by the local gang leader, a dad who left when he was seven. He does have his two best friends, his grandmother’s cooking and his talent for drawing. Just when Venetia asks him to draw her portrait, he is pulled deeper into the gang scene with the pressure mounting and the local inter-gang war escalating. He needs to get out of this mess and save his family from. With all of Alex’s brilliance for dialogue, LICCLE BIT is a story of redemption, of love, of family, of trying to hold your head up, of one boy’s journey.


  • Atom Books/Little Brown UK
  • Au Diable Vauvert France
  • Antje Kunstmann Verlag Germany
  • Polirom Romania

Material: finished copies (288pp).