Publication Date: 26/01/2023 ISBN: 9781787333468 Category:

I’m Black So You Don’t Have to Be

Colin Grant

Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publication Date: 26/01/2023 ISBN: 9781787333468 Category:


Out of stock


A memoir told through a series of intimate portraits, which build into a poignant, insightful and unforgettable testimony of West Indian British experience


‘Grant is a natural storyteller… Compelling and charming’
BERNARDINE EVARISTO, author of Girl, Woman, Other

‘Grant’s most revealing work’

‘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. 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.

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 a poignant and insightful testimony of the black British experience – an unforgettable exploration of family, identity, race and generational change.

Publisher Review

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

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