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Meera Syal
Anita and Me

In Meera Syal’s semi-autobiographical novel, Meena Kumar is the only Indian girl in the former British mining village of Tollington. While her parents wait in vain for their daughter’s sudden and definitive metamorphosis into the model Indian girl, all Meena wants is to be a Tollington wench.

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Jessica George
Maame

Jessica George’s debut novel Maame has the air of being the well-behaved little sister to Candice Carty-Williams Queenie. Like Queenie, Maddie, the protagonist, goes through crises and explores her sexuality, but she is – perhaps because of the Christian upbringing in her Ghanaian family home – far less reckless.

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Nana Oforiatta Ayim
The God Child

Nana Oforiatta Ayim’s prose in her debut novel The God Child feels like poetry: vivid, associative, beautiful – and sometimes a little confusing. The story navigates between Ghana, Germany and the UK, following its young protagonist Maya from childhood to her early twenties, and is a narrative rich in history, complicity and complicated relationships.

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Emma Dabiri
What White People Can Do Next

With a confrontational title, the message of the book is pretty straight-forward and ambitious. The text is a long essay which consists of a set of guidelines that offers white people a way to confront systemic racism that does not fall into historically cliched and ineffectual advice.

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Natasha Brown
Assembly

As the title of Natasha Brown’s debut novel suggests, it amounts to a coming-together, an assembling. A Black British woman attends a party for an upper-class white family. This celebration in rural England is the culmination of her inner dilemmas: has she made it or are her actions making her an accomplice to the racism she experiences? At this party, she makes up her mind.

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Abulrazak Gurnah
By the Sea

Since Abdulrazak Gurnah was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2021, the Zanzibar-born author who lives in the UK has suddenly become known to mainstream audiences. Gurnah’s 2001 novel By the sea is about a dispute between two families that takes place against a backdrop of political change.

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JJ Bola
Mask Off: Masculinity Redefined

As I read the book, I had the feeling that its main target audience is young boys who struggle with the expectations of having to be tough guys. Bola mentions that he wrote “Mask Off” precisely because he himself would have wished for just this book in his youth.

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