I was itching to read Washington Black as soon as it made the long list for the 2018 Booker Prize. Its strapline “Escape is only the beginning” carried an air of intrigue and adventure with it, and the premise of a young black slave plucked from the horrors of plantation life to assist an inventor in his flights of fancy promised something a little different in approach to the usual telling of the story of slavery. The book mostly hits its mark and is worthy of its place on the Booker short list, the thing that prompted me to pick the book off the New Stock Just In shelves at the library. Continue reading →
It took me a while to read this history of Black people in Britain, mainly because it’s an in-depth piece of research that warranted a slow read to absorb the multi-layered stories, but also because the majority of those stories are necessarily hard going. I needed to take a number of breaks to read books that were lighter in tone or pure fiction.
I watched David Olusoga’s BBC TV show Black and British last year and have been meaning to read the accompanying book for a while. I enjoyed his presenting style and the way he made a difficult subject accessible without diluting the message of white culpability in the enslavement and continued denigration of people of colour that is central to this history. Continue reading →
I loved Kit de Waal’s debut novel, My Name is Leon, so when I heard that she had her second book out and it was on the longlist for the Women’s Prize for Fiction, I slung in a library reservation. I had a bit of a wait. Lots of people wanted to read it before me. Were we all justified in our anticipation? Continue reading →
My Name is Leon is a wonderful, warm, funny, tense, sad and hopeful book. When it appeared on the voting list for the Reader’s Room March Madness Challenge, I read the blurb and didn’t feel anything much for it. The blurb made the book sound twee and patronising. Now that I’ve read it, I can appreciate how difficult it is to try to condense its essence to a paragraph. The book is anything but twee or patronising. Continue reading →
I’d like to advise that you don’t read this book* if you have an amount of isotonic sports drink (or any other liquid, for example tea) in your mouth (a small amount or a large amount, it doesn’t matter).