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Nightcrawling is an unforgettable novel about young people navigating the darkest corners of an adult world, told with a humanity that is at once agonising and utterly mesmerising.


by Leila Mottley
  • Longlisted for the Booker Prize 2022 – THE YOUNGEST EVER BOOKER NOMINEE
  • The instant New York Times bestseller

When there is no choice, all you have left to do is walk.

Kiara Johnson does not know what it is to live as a normal seventeen-year-old. With her mother in a rehab facility and an older brother who devotes his time and money to a recording studio, she fends for herself – and for nine-year-old Trevor, whose own mother is prone to disappearing for days at a time. As the landlord of their apartment block threatens to raise their rent, Kiara finds herself walking the streets after dark, determined to survive in a world that refuses to protect her.

Then one night Kiara is picked up by two police officers, and the gruesome deal she is offered in exchange for her freedom lands her at the centre of a media storm. If she agrees to testify in a grand jury trial, she could help expose the sickening corruption of a police department. But honesty comes at a price – one that could leave her family vulnerable to their retaliation, and endanger everyone she loves.


‘Mottley attempts to do for Oakland something of what the wire did for Baltimore’ The Times

‘A soul-searching portrait of survival and hope’ Oprah Winfrey

‘Restlessly truth-seeking, Nightcrawling marks the dazzling arrival of a young writer with a voice and vision you won’t easily get out of your head.’ The Guardian

‘Lush, immersive writing and a relentless reality… Kiara’s intense, anguished interiority [is] rendered in lovely and poetic exposition’ Kirkus

‘Leila Mottley’s writing erupts and flows like lava’ Tommy Orange author of There There

‘Groundbreaking . . . This is going to be one of the big books of 2022’ Stylist

‘Truly beautiful and powerful… Nightcrawling is more than just a magnificent debut novel. It is a bid, by this prodigiously gifted young writer, to heal a broken world’ Ruth Ozeki author best known for My Year of Meats

‘Bold and beautiful…This heartrending story makes for a powerful testament to a Black woman’s resilience.’ Publishers Weekly (Starred)

About the author

Leila Mottley is the 2018 Oakland Youth Poet Laureate. Her work has been featured in the New York Times and Oprah Daily. She was born and raised in Oakland and continues to live in the Town. Nightcrawling is her first novel.


Leila has performed and run poetry workshops as the 2018 Oakland Youth Poet Laureate and her work has been published in Oprah Daily and The New York Times.

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