as part of the #BLM movement last year, I made it imperative that I educate myself regarding history and literature surrounding this topic. This involved seeking authors I would have unknowingly dismissed due to a cultural difference: one of them was Candice Carty-Williams.
the first of her novels I read. I will admit this took me a while to get into due to the difference in culture, which shows how much more of a way I have to go, to get even a slight indication of what it means to be a black woman.
Carty-Williams soon had me engaged by drawing upon multiple themes which we should ALL be aware of that we automatically overlook everyday, including race, diversity and culture of the BAME community.
through Queenie Jenkins’ eyes, our feisty protagonist, we experience her being accused being aggressive, when she is simply trying to protect herself from inappropriate advances, simply because she is a black woman.
set in London, there is also the difference of cultures between black and white, men and women; all very different as we experience her overlooked even more. she has a lot of unprotected sex which sees her face problems along the way, including miscarriage, rape and sexual harassment at work. take a guess as to how she is treated?
I can see why this has won so many book awards! I implore you to widen your reading and choose authors that will expand your knowledge of culture, even if it is the beginning of getting an inkling into what it is like.
genre: adult fiction
NOTTING HILL CARNIVAL: A WEST SIDE STORY
this next one was a ‘Quick Reads’ and only 70 pages, so I whizzed through it in a day.
it is perfect if you’re looking for a way to introduce yourself to her writing quickly, where she covers many themes of race and culture all in a short story. when reading this, I envisioned this as a BBC 3 miniseries or drama, as so much happens.
it is a tale set in Brixton, London, focusing on the ‘red roses’ and ‘gold teeth’: two groups ‘at war’ that we follow from childhood as they bloom into young-adults. I viewed this as a mirroring of Romeo and Juliet, a love at first sight moment where dashing Apollo literally falls on Sapphire, both members of opposing sides.
this is not approved by the red roses and gold teeth. they are warned there will be trouble.
sadly there is a fight brewing, where one person is injured and we see Sapphire running away – but why?
I loved this sweet, heartfelt story. highlighting the racial undertones and attitudes of white police officers, whilst capturing the perfect exchanges between the members, especially young couple Apollo and Sapphire.
will they get together?
needless to say, I was hooked at the end.
genre: romance, urban fiction
these were both eye-opening, pleasant reads. if, like me, you are somewhat shadowed from this culture, I would encourage you to read these kinds of novels to gain an insight into others’ experiences to widen your own knowledge and be aware of why this movement is so important