you are reading...

The Good Immigrant

thegoodimmigrantAs I was reading this collection of essays exploring what it meant to be Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic in the UK today, I couldn’t help but sigh that this conversation about identity was still being had. I was immediately transported back to when I was studying for my English Lit degree, and having lengthy class discussions about race and identity, and debates on whether we could ever be post race or post-post-colonial, where from a literary and I guess societal point of view, people of colour could transcend race.

But given the seismic shifts in the political landscape in the past 11 months alone, where issues of race and immigration have played a major part in much of the surrounding discourse, what with Brexit and the US elections, it’s clear that writing like The Good Immigrant is very relevant and very needed.

Having read similar essays and articles in the past, I was half expecting rant after rant about the injustices suffered at the hands of racist institutions, employers, peers, neighbours etc. But instead these were incisive and poignant pieces of work, painful funny at times and unflinchingly honest. There was often a sense a of weariness, as though the writers themselves were thinking as I did ‘Why are we still having this conversation?’ and ‘Will it ever be over?’.

The very idea of a ‘good immigrant’ conjures up this image of near invisibility and silence. Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic peopleΒ moving through white spaces being seen (just) and not heard. Only speaking when spoken to and always in deference, grateful just to be allowed to live on this fair isle. I think nearly every person who has immigrant parents has had the ‘talk’ at some point which one way or another essentially tells you to keep your head down so as to not invite or arouse undue attention – ‘you don’t want the Whites to think you weren’t raised properly’. But the very nature of this book defies that imagery because each writer boldly and proudly announces their presence and the presence of others like them. Us. We.

This has been one of the best reads of 2016 for me, partly because of it’s timeliness and also because the diverse range of voices. I don’t think I’ve ever read an essayΒ on racial identity by an East Asian person and Wei Ming Kam’s essay ‘Beyond ‘Good’ Immigrants’ was as fascinating as it was insightful as it kind of answered some questions I’d always had about the Chinese community in the UK and where they stood on issues of race identity and representation. Though quite academic in its presentation, it was one of my favourite pieces as I felt I’d learnt something new from it.

Though not every essay ‘moved’ me so to speak, I do think The Good Immigrant is aΒ book to keep coming back to and it would be interesting to see if opinions or feelings about the writing changes. Even more interesting would be if in years to come, if a similar project was undertaken would anything have changed?



  1. Pingback: The Scholar: A West Side Story | Just Read It - 4 February 2018

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s




My review of the fantastic joyride through UK Grime history that is Hold Tight by @unseenflirtations is now up on the @thebritishblacklist website! Read and share 😊
#holdtight #reviews #recommended #blackbritishliterature #blackbritishauthors #bookstagram #books #grime #music Always a pleasure and a thrill when a author responds to a review you've written about their books! πŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒ
#fangirling #courttianewland #thescholar #bookreview #bookstagram #justreadit So someone (or someones) keeps viewing the review post I uploaded about this novel Lynch's Road by D.D. Armstrong. This is awesome but it was 6 YEARS ago that I wrote the post, so why the sudden interest?? I mean 25 views in one day! I'm not complaining, just curious πŸ‘€πŸ‘€. Anyway if you haven't already, read the book. It's pretty good! #bookreview #bookstagram #blackbritishliterature #blackbritishauthors #random #blogs #justreadit #lynchsroad So I had some thoughts, about Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's response to the French journalist Caroline BrouΓ©. First that it was an epic clap back! Second her explanation that she attributes the question to a poor attempt by BrouΓ©, to be ironic, shows how gracious she can be in the face of blatant ignorance. Third, there is an issue surrounding access to books/bookshops which would have been a better conversation. To read more, visit the blog. Link in bio. Or comment below. 
#chimamandangoziadichie #frenchjournalist #reading #bookshops #libraries #racism #ignorance #clapbacks Celebrating 21 years since the release of The Scholar: A West Side Story by Courttia Newland! 21 YEARS!! Boy, brings back some sweet memories! An all time classic πŸ˜ŠπŸ’œ
#classics #bookstagram #books #courttianewland #thescholar #blackbritishauthors #blackbritish #anniversary Looking forward to reading these v soon! Has anyone else read them? What did you think?#newbooks #bookstagram #recommended #bornacrime #trevornoah #welcometolagos #chibunduonuzo #dearijeawele #chimamandangoziadichie So went to the bookstore in Berlin and I was super excited because it's the kind of place you can just chill and read to your heart's content. A bit like Borders (remember that London store before it went bust?). There's also a music department and dvds etc. Literally my idea of heaven!! Defo coming back hereπŸ˜€πŸ’œπŸ’œ
#books #berlin #dussmannkulturkaufhaus #bookstore #bookstagram #chillspot Happy New Year everybody!! May 2018 bring you much joy and blessings. And of course some excellent books to read and share! Whatever you're doing tonight be happy and be safe πŸ™‚
#happynewyear #2018 #blessings #joy #bookstagram Just some of the books read in 2017. Even more on the TBR list, 2018 is set. Got recommendations or review requests, hit me up in the comments πŸ˜ŠπŸ“šπŸ“š
#bookstagram #bookreview #books2017 #tbr #thehateugive #minaret #holdtight #emilyknight #whyimnolongertalkingtowhitepeopleaboutrace #scotlandyardie #homegoing #adancetorember #thehiddentreasureswithin #anuntamedstate
%d bloggers like this: