Bernardine Evaristo's New Project Spotlights “Lost” Black British Memoirs

“I am very excited to introduce these books to new readers who will discover their riches.”

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Bernardine Evaristo's New Project Spotlights “Lost” Black British Memoirs
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Following a significant few years in publishing for Black authors, Booker Prize winner and Girl, Woman, Other author, Bernardine Evaristo, is continuing on her mission to ensure Black British literary history receives its much deserved recognition. In collaboration with Penguin, the acclaimed author has curated five “hard-to-find” and “lost” non-fiction novels as part of ongoing project Black Britain: Writing Back series. Soon to be released nationwide (Feb.3), the five memoirs are promised to be reads full of “riches”.

From “joyful” hair stories from Britain’s first Black journalist to a powerful insider account of systemic racism inside Eton during the sixties, each of the chosen books is by Black writers who wrote about Britain and the diaspora over the last century.

The list follows Evaristo’s previous curation of six under-the-radar fiction books for Black Britain: Writing Back series in 2021, which the writer previously described as “hidden gems.” What’s more, the five chosen memoirs have been repackaged with “fresh” and “bold” new covers and include an intro from Evaristo herself.

In a statement sent to Bustle, the author says she is “excited to introduce these new books to new readers” as well as continue to “correct historic bias in British publishing.”

“While many of us continue to lobby for the publishing industry to become more inclusive and representative of our society, this project looks back to the past in order to resurrect texts that will help reconfigure black British literary history.”

Evaristo added: “My aim is to present a body of work that illustrates a variety of preoccupations and genres that offer important and diverse black British perspectives. I am very excited to introduce these books to new readers who will discover their riches.”

With that said, here are Bernardine Evaristo’s curated list of five Black British memoirs to add to your next book haul.

A Black Boy At Eton

A Black Boy At Eton by Dillibe Onyeama
As the second Black boy to study at the prestigious Eton school in 1965, Dillibe Onyeama’s memoir, written at just 21-years-old, is described as a “deeply personal, revelatory account of the racism he endured during his time as a student.”“He tells in vivid detail of his own background as the son of a Nigerian judge at the International Court of Justice at The Hague, of his arrival at the school, of the curriculum, of his reception by other boys (and masters), and of his punishments,” reveals the synopsis. He also recounts the racial prejudice he experiences and his reactions to it.

Britons Through Negro Spectacles

Britons Through Negro Spectacles By ABC Merriman-Labor
Born in Freetown, Sierra Leone, in 1877, writer and barrister ABC Merriman-Labor provides much needed social commentary regarding race in Britain via a described “joyous, intoxicating tour of London at the turn of the 20th century.” Having moved to the UK to study law in 1904, the book is said to slyly subvert the colonial gaze usually placed on Africa as Merriman-Labor introduces readers “to the citizens, culture, and customs of Britain with a mischievous glint in his eye.”

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