George Orwell’s real name was Eric Blair and Eric Blair once lived on the streets. This is a true fact, and here is a true-ish book about it. You can have a look for free here. Down and Out in Paris and London is a clever mash-up of Orwell’s experiences and observations while slumming it in the restaurants of Paris and tramping the streets in London.
Since Orwell had family and friends who were well off in both cities, there’s nothing near the desperation of Knut Hamsun’s Hunger. What we get instead is an experimental, but pragmatic breakdown of the minutiae of poverty. And it’s not pretty; we’ve got bugs, sexual harassment, social ostracism and a neverending diet of bread and tea. But on the other hand, there is resourcefulness, mateship and Orwell designs a basic blueprint for a commune that would benefit the English poor, whose hardship Orwell concludes is essentially perpetuated by the state. A wonderful book that will make you think and squirm.