Saturday, 17 February 2018

Six stories and an Essay - Andrea Levy

a photo courtesy:
A personal journey told through a set of stories.

Andrea Levy is new to me. I had never read her before. But after this collection that encapsulates all that she believes in, there is now an admiration for this author and the curiosity to know her works better.

The book has an autobiographical essay, a very well articulated experience of growing up as  an African child in Britain. It resonates with me, although it was decades before I arrived here as an adult. I see my children sharing similar experiences although the English society is a more modern and self aware than the one of her time.

The Gist:

The essay talks about the immigrant experience in Britain in the 60s. It talks of Levy growing up in a council estate absorbing all the English "flavours" of social behaviour and attitudes and yet she is singled out as black because of her origins and colour.

The six stories that follow are a slice of that immigrant experience - stories that come from her mother's experience and which introduce characters of her other novels.

What works:
  • The essay is strong and makes a valid point. It makes a case for British slavery in the islands and how has escaped the British history books. It reminds of the Indian Independence which has a similar treatment. The English history books claim that the empire chose to leave the country and decided to hand it over to the natives. But the Indian version claims that it had to fight tooth and nail to secure it. Levy's essay makes a very valid point and an insightful one at that.
  • The stories elaborate what the essay is trying to say. What I liked is how the author introduces the story with her own anecdote. It makes it personal and offered a masterclass into what goes into a short story.
  • Levy has a great writing style. That she feel strongly is clear in her tone in the essay and the way she has used it in her stories shows how experience can be woven into a well structured story. 
What doesn't:
  • Nothing really. It is a well packaged slim volume - full of impact and a fastread.
Only wish someone of Indian descent had the guts to write something like this.

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