Winner of the Jhalak Prize
‘A revelation’ Owen Jones
‘Afropean seizes the blur of contradictions that have obscured Europe’s relationship with blackness and paints it into something new, confident and lyrical’ Afua Hirsch
A Guardian, New Statesman and BBC History Magazine Best Book of 2019
‘Afropean. Here was a space where blackness was taking part in shaping European identity … A continent of Algerian flea markets, Surinamese shamanism, German Reggae and Moorish castles. Yes, all this was part of Europe too … With my brown skin and my British passport – still a ticket into mainland Europe at the time of writing – I set out in search of the Afropeans, on a cold October morning.’
Afropean is an on-the-ground documentary of areas where Europeans of African descent are juggling their multiple allegiances and forging new identities. Here is an alternative map of the continent, taking the reader to places like Cova Da Moura, the Cape Verdean shantytown on the outskirts of Lisbon with its own underground economy, and Rinkeby, the area of Stockholm that is eighty per cent Muslim. Johny Pitts visits the former Patrice Lumumba University in Moscow, where West African students are still making the most of Cold War ties with the USSR, and Clichy Sous Bois in Paris, which gave birth to the 2005 riots, all the while presenting Afropeans as lead actors in their own story.
“forced me to stop and pause”, “the book invites us to witness journeys of creativity of communities often unrecorded in studies of European history, highlighting the commonality of African-European experiences across the continent” — Olivette Otele * BBC History Magazine, Books of the Year * it is remarkable how quickly he gets to the soul of a place […] What is consistently impressive throughout Pitts’s work is his ability to blend fact with anecdote; the effect is often cinematic. At times, you may feel that instead of reading a non-fiction book you are watching a well-paced historical thriller * New Statesman * a beautiful study of black identity in Europe * The Telegraph * [Pitts’] talent for sharp summary is apparent early on…a natural talent for describing cities and their atmosphere * The Evening Standard * Afropean announces the arrival of an impassioned author able to deftly navigate and illuminate a black world that for many would otherwise have remained unseen * The Guardian *
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