All Involved


A propulsive and ambitious novel as electrifying as The Wire, from a writer hailed as the West Coast’s Richard Price—a brutal and mesmerizing epic of crime and opportunity, race, revenge, and loyalty, set in the chaotic streets of South Central L.A. in the wake of one of the most notorious, incendiary, and racially charged trials of the 1990s, involving the severe beating of a civilian black man and three white LAPD officers.

At 3:15 p.m. on April 29, 1992, a jury acquitted two Los Angeles Police Department officers charged with using excessive force to subdue civilian Rodney King, and failed to reach a verdict on the same charges involving a third officer. Less than two hours later, the city of LA, a powder keg of racial tension, exploded in violence as people took to the streets in a terrifying orgy of rioting that lasted six days.

A gritty and cinematic work of fiction, All Involved vividly re-creates this turbulent and terrifying time, set in a sliver of Los Angeles largely ignored by the media during the riots. Ryan Gattis tells seventeen interconnected first-person narratives that paint a portrait of our prejudices, and our complexities. With characters that capture the voices of gang members, firefighters, graffiti kids, and nurses caught up in these extraordinary circumstances, this edgy writer catapults into the ranks of such legendary talents as Dennis Lehane and George V. Higgins.

All Involved is a novel of historical fiction set during the 6 days of the 1992 L.A. Riots. It tells of this chaos with an unmatched level of scope, authenticity, and insight into the South Central city of Lynwood, as well as the overlapping worlds of firefighters, nurses, graffiti artists, and, most of all, members of Latino street gangs because it is grounded in extensive research & background that granted me an unprecedented look into this world. (I talk more about the dangers & difficulties of winning the trust of one particularly powerful former gang member in my TEDx Talk.)

The novel’s title is taken from the slang. It refers to someone who is part of the Chicano gang life in Los Angeles—the gang capital of the world—but it’s something more too: its latter half is also LAFD jargon for a conflagration, i.e. a burning building is involved. Perhaps most crucially, it’s also a description with the ghost of the third person plural: (We are) all involved. Which is apt. Because this also pertains to the 17 different first person narrators, and the peripheral characters woven throughout the novel, the ones who—regardless of circumstances—are swept up in the chaos. They are the voices of this era in Los Angeles, doing what they can to survive.

This is why I hope my novel hits you how my research hit me: a dark window into an internationally infamous event that somehow manages to be something entirely new, terrifying, and enlightening. This book is for anyone who has ever seen clips of the riots on television, for anyone who ever thought the reasons for it at the time were not enough to explain its scale, for anyone who ever wondered why it went on as long as it did, and, perhaps most especially, this book is for those who have yet to hear a word about the L.A. riots of 1992.

In this way, All Involved is a time capsule about the human cost of the riots: the struggles, difficulties, and even hopes of Angelenos during the most dangerous time in the city’s history.

The novel won the American Library Association’s Alex Award (2016) & the Lire Award for Noir of the Year (France, 2017).