Out on 22 June 2023


Ashleigh Nugent

22 June 2023
352 pages


'Blends humour and introspection, poetry and the poignant' - Derek Owusu
'Irreverent, authentic and utterly enthralling. A wonderful book' - Jimmy McGovern

‘1993 was the year that Stephen Lawrence got murdered by racists, and I became an angry Black lad with a “chip on his shoulder”’

Aeon, a mixed-up and mixed-race teenager from a leafy Liverpool suburb, is desperate to understand the Black identity thrust upon him. He grows dreadlocks and immerses himself in ‘gangsta’ rap. But Aeon’s journey of self-discovery is hampered by the fact that the only Black people in his life are his dad and his cousin, Increase.

Aeon’s ambition to find his place in the world takes him to Jamaica. Here, Aeon soon finds that smoking loads of weed, growing messy locks and wearing massive red boots don’t necessarily help him to fit in. Within days of his arrival he is mugged, arrested and banged up in a Jamaican detention centre. Seen as the ‘White boy’, he finds that his journey of self-discovery has only just begun - and he’s going to have to fight for the respect and recognition he deserves . . .

A coming-of-age comedy of errors, Locks is an electric debut novel about growing up, wising up, and finding your place in a world of opposites.

'Twisty, energetic, voice-led . . . Nugent is pure talent' - Raymond Antrobus
'Thought provoking and funny' - David Beckler

A necessary exploration of identity, belonging, a search for meaning and the complicated expression of multiple cultures. Ashleigh is a born storyteller, able to blend humour and introspection, poetry and the poignant.
‘I loved Locks. It’s a twisty, energetic, voice-led novel, written with humour and skill and drama . . . Like Virginia Woolf but from the ends. Nugent is pure talent, something else.’
Thought-provoking and funny . . . perfectly captures the sense of being between two cultures, whilst never feeling fully part of either . . . full of larger-than-life characters who jump off the page.