Feature

Bernardine Evaristo recommends 6 books on being Black and British

The Booker Prize winner suggests works by Afua Hirsch, David Olusoga, and more

Novelist Bernardine Evaristo is the author of Girl, Woman, Other, winner of the 2019 Booker Prize. Her ninth book, and nonfiction debut, is Manifesto, a memoir. Below, she recommends six other books that offer insights on being Black and British.

Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging by Afua Hirsch (2018). 

Exploring her British, Ghanaian, and Jewish heritage in a blend of memoir, history, and social commentary, Hirsch— a phenomenal journalist and broadcaster— writes honestly, wisely, and beautifully about culture and identity and the contradictions inherent in a racially stratified society. Buy it here.

Black and British: A Forgotten History by David Olusoga (2016). 

One of Britain's leading historians offers a fantastic introduction to the still little-known Black strands of British history, traveling back to the Roman occupation 2,000 years ago. This chunky book is fascinating, entertaining, and educational. Buy it here.

House of Music by Kadiatu Kanneh-Mason (2020). 

Kanneh-Mason shows us how she and her husband, Stuart—he of Antiguan heritage, she Sierra Leonean— raised their seven children. Now ages 12 to 25, they have all become outstanding classical musicians. House of Music is a gorgeous, glorious, award-winning book about lovingly nurturing your children to help them achieve their full potential. Buy it here.

Loud Black Girls edited by Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinené (2021). 

It's still a rare thing: 20 young Black British women reflecting on what it's like to live in these times. Their voices are lively, intellectually curious, and challenging, and cover a wide range of issues, including social media and the arts, representation and isolation, and sexuality and self-discovery. Buy it here.

The Grassling by Elizabeth-Jane Burnett (2019).

Burnett's deliciously tactile and meditative evocation of the Devon countryside is a memoir and nature book about the land from a uniquely Black British perspective. Burnett is also a poet, and her sensory descriptions are par excellence. To read this is to luxuriate in the land, and to connect to it and oneself. Buy it here.

Tribes by David Lammy (2020). 

This book takes you inside the mind of one of Britain's finest, most fearless politicians. Raised in a working class Black immigrant family, Lammy has been a Labour member of Parliament since 2000. It's hard to briefly encapsulate such a wide-ranging book, but it offers penetrating insights into how we live, in Britain and elsewhere. Buy it here.

This article was first published in the latest issue of The Week magazine. If you want to read more like it, you can try six risk-free issues of the magazine here.

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