I’m Black So You Don’t Have to Be
‘A natural storyteller. This is a compelling and charming read’ Bernardine Evaristo, Booker Prize-winning author of GIRL, WOMAN, OTHER
‘I’m black, so you don’t have to be,’ Colin Grant’s uncle Castus used to tell him. For Colin, born in Britain to Jamaican parents, things were supposed to be different. If he worked hard and became a doctor, he was told, his race would become invisible; he would shake off the burden he believed his parents’ generation had carried. The reality turned out to be very different.
This is a memoir told through a series of intimate intergenerational portraits. We meet Grant’s mother Ethlyn, disappointed by working-class life in Luton, who dreams of returning to Jamaica; his father Bageye, a maverick and small-time ganja dealer with a violent temper; his sister Selma, who refashioned herself as an African princess; his great uncle Percy, estranged from his family through his own pride.
Each character we meet is navigating their own path. Each life informs Grant’s own shifting sense of his identity. Collectively these stories build into poignant and insightful testimony of the black British experience. Written with the intrigue, nuance, beauty and wit of short stories, and with the veracity and painful revelation of memoir, I’m Black So You Don’t Have to Be is an unforgettable exploration of family, identity, race and generational change.
Colin Grant writes about the characters in his family with the mischievous, dramatic flair of a natural storyteller. This is a compelling and charming read. -- Bernardine Evaristo, Booker Prize-winning author of GIRL, WOMAN, OTHER Unflinching, honest and supremely intelligent, this wonderful collection of linked memoir essays cements Grant's reputation as a chronicler of the Black British experience... An artful exploration of others in order to illuminate the self. We are always in the hands of Grant's singular and deft voice, moving from the funny to the tragic in swift, confident strides. -- Hannah Lowe, Costa prize-winning author of THE KIDS A memoir told through [Grant's] interaction with his family and others, but presented in impeccable prose and woven together with all the tensions and humour of the best fiction. A hugely enjoyable read. Get it now. -- Roger Robinson, T.S. Eliot prize-winning author of A PORTABLE PARADISE I want everyone to read this book. Not only for the transformative powers of its humanity and lucidity, but because it is brimming with life. Tender yet shocking, funny yet sad, compelling and yet challenging too. It's revelatory. It's unsettling. And so utterly vivid with character and talk. I loved it more than I can say. But more than that, it changed my perception of how things really are. Colin Grant opened the door to me. -- Keggie Carew, Costa prize-winning author of DADLAND This outstanding memoir contains a beautiful tenderness and a courageous realness. Vibrant, poignant and brutally frank, it is rooted in authenticity and wisdom, the details of a world well-observed. Grant's work here is powerful, evocative, empowered and forthright. -- Salena Godden, author of MRS DEATH MISSES DEATH
Find this book on the following lists
January 2023 New Releases: Equality & InclusivityBrowse The List
Book experts at your service
What are you looking for?