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The idea of authenticity – deliciously vague and as ubiquitous as Starbucks – has hit the spot in almost every sector of 21st-century life.

But can we trust the authentic image of Nigel ‘man-of-the-people’ Farage, Sarah ‘hockey mom’ Palin or Gwyneth ‘inner life’ Paltrow? Are punk bands, distressed denim and rustic furniture really as spontaneous as people seem to think? Is bare-brick Shoreditch just one big authenticity scam?

From motivational speakers to PR consultants, music entrepreneurs to devoted foodies, bearded hipsters to earnest YouTubers – and, yes, politicians too – ‘authentic’ has become the buzzword of our age.

But, as Peter York has discovered, its meaning has changed and become corrupted: every advertising agency, micro-connoisseur and charlatan going has re-tooled the language of authenticity for our changing market and it is now practically impossible for us to differentiate between authentic and ‘authentic’.

Drawing on witty anecdotes and analysing various spheres of everyday life, Peter has set out to uncover the truth behind authenticity – the ultimate con of our generation.

Provocations is a groundbreaking new series of short polemics composed by some of the most intriguing voices in contemporary culture and edited by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown. Sharp, intelligent and controversial, Provocations provides insightful contributions to the most vital discussions in society today.


‘The words flow easily past, and there are not that many of them, yet the invective in them is so dense than an enforced slower pace finds much to savour as Peter York lays into the modern love of presenting brands, products and people as ‘authentic’.

Mark Pack

An ambitious new series that tackles the controversy of the topics explored with a mixture of intelligence and forthright argument from some excellent writers.

The Observer

York provides several deliciously scathing snapshots... It's entertaining stuff. York’s sharp eye provides insights aplenty. 

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  • Hardback, 128 pages
  • ISBN: 9781849547871
  • 27 November 2014
  • £10.00

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  • ISBN: 9781849548489
  • 27 November 2014
  • £5.00

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