Yardie (novel)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
AuthorVictor Headley
CountryUnited Kingdom
PublisherLondon, UK: X Press
Publication date
Media typePrint

Yardie was the debut novel of Jamaican-born British writer Victor Headley, being described as "the publishing story of 1992"[1] when it became the first title produced by Dotun Adebayo's newly established X Press.[2]


The novel achieved impressive sales, initially through outlets other than traditional bookshops; according to Goodreads: "Yardie is, quite simply, a literary sensation in England. Originally published by X Press, a two-man operation, the book was produced on a desktop computer and distributed through unusual channels: it was sold at clothing shops, hairdressers, and even on top of over-turned dumpsters outside of nightclubs. On word of mouth alone, Yardie has sold over twelve thousand copies."[3][4] It went on to sell some 30,000 copies.[2] Interviewed by Vastiana Belfon for the New Statesman, X Press co-founder Steve Pope said: "It was the first populist black title aimed at a black audience, and its sales success prompted W H Smith to set up black writing sections in its stores. Other booksellers soon followed."[5]

Set largely in 1980s Hackney, the novel borrows its title from yardie, a term stemming from the slang name originally given to occupants of "government yards" — social housing projects with very basic amenities, and is based on the fictional story a young Jamaican's rise from the streets of London to the top of the drug-dealing underworld. Publishers Weekly (reviewing the Atlantic Monthly Press edition) called Yardie a "well-crafted crime story", saying: "A planned sequel may perhaps provide insight into the gangster at the center of the intriguing world Headley has created."[6]

Film adaptation[edit]

In 2016 it was revealed that Idris Elba was to make his directorial debut with an adaptation of Yardie.[7][8] Elba confirmed: "It's actually a smaller capsule story within the story of Yardie. It's about a boy who comes from Jamaica and finds himself in London, being a naughty boy. You're going to see a muscular, dynamic and heartfelt film that means something to people. I want people to come out of the film and say 'Hmm, I feel like going to Jamaica now!' That's the idea."[9] The film stars Aml Ameen, with Stephen Graham in a supporting role,[10] and was released in 2018.


  1. ^ Kieran Meeke, "Victor Headley", Metro, 27 October 2009.
  2. ^ a b Dotun Adebayo, "Make Banks Pay For Discriminating", The Voice, 3 December 2011.
  3. ^ "Yardie (Yardie Series #1) by Victor Headley" at Goodreads.
  4. ^ Benjamin Peronne, "Yardie by Victor Headley", United Reggae, 21 December 2007.
  5. ^ Vastiana Belfon, "Commentary", New Statesman, 7 June 2004.
  6. ^ "Yardie" (review), Publishers Weekly, 30 August 1993.
  7. ^ Michael Nordine, "Idris Elba to Make Directorial Debut with ‘Yardie,’ an ’80s-set Cocaine Thriller. Might he also star as well?", IndieWire, 5 July 2016.
  8. ^ Jack Giroux, "Idris Elba May Make His Feature Directorial Debut With ‘Yardie’", /Film, 7 July 2016.
  9. ^ Sam Ashurst, "Exclusive: Idris Elba talks his directorial debut Yardie", Digital Spy, 22 March 2017.
  10. ^ Orlando Parfitt, "First image for Idris Elba directorial debut 'Yardie' released", Screen Daily, 16 May 2017.

External links[edit]