Welcome to my Non Fiction edition of Throwback Thursday. The Good Immigrant is such a groundbreaking and relevant read and I felt I should share my review from last year with everyone as part of Non Fiction November. The Good Immigrant is a collection of essays written by British writers, comedians, actors and teachers who are judged and treated differently by the colour of their skin or the religious beliefs. The Good Immigrant is an eye-opening experience and all the writers that got involved are passionate, pragmatic and honest. I hope you enjoy my review and get a chance to pick up a copy for yourself.
About The Good Immigrant
How does it feel to be constantly regarded as a potential threat, strip-searched at every airport?
Or be told that, as an actress, the part you’re most fitted to play is ‘wife of a terrorist’? How does it feel to have words from your native language misused, misappropriated and used aggressively towards you? How does it feel to hear a child of colour say in a classroom that stories can only be about white people? How does it feel to go ‘home’ to India when your home is really London? What is it like to feel you always have to be an ambassador for your race? How does it feel to always tick ‘Other’?
Bringing together 21 exciting black, Asian and minority ethnic voices emerging in Britain today, The Good Immigrant explores why immigrants come to the UK, why they stay and what it means to be ‘other’ in a country that doesn’t seem to want you, doesn’t truly accept you – however many generations you’ve been here – but still needs you for its diversity monitoring forms.
Inspired by discussion around why society appears to deem people of colour as bad immigrants – job stealers, benefit scroungers, undeserving refugees – until, by winning Olympic races or baking good cakes, or being conscientious doctors, they cross over and become good immigrants, editor Nikesh Shukla has compiled a collection of essays that are poignant, challenging, angry, humorous, heartbreaking, polemic, weary and – most importantly – real.
About Nikesh Shukla
Nikesh Shukla is the author of the Costa First Novel Award-shortlisted novel, Coconut Unlimited (‘…a riot of cringeworthy moments made real by Shukla’s beautifully observed characters and talent for teen banter.’ Metro) and the Channel 4 Comedy Lab Kabadasses, starring Jack Doolan, Josie Long and Shazad Latif. His writing has featured on BBC2, Radio 4, and BBC Asian Network. He has performed at Royal Festival Hall, Book Club Boutique, Soho Theatre, The Big Chill and Latitude. He likes Spider-man comics. A lot.
Unbound are such a positive and encouraging publisher. Each of the projects they publish are funded by book lovers; those who want authors to succeed. The Good Immigrant was chosen by us, funded by us (and even J.K Rowling). 21 influential BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) individuals are here to share their thoughts and experiences of being viewed as an immigrant in the UK. Actors, journalists, comedians, teachers and writers tell us about what it takes to gain approval in this country; how racism has changed over the years; dealing with dual nationality and their frustrations of how they are viewed on a daily basis. The Good Immigrant is thought-provoking, upsetting, empowering and exists to set the record straight.
When picking up non-fiction books I always hope that they will each teach me something meaningful or at least give me clarity on a subject that I wasn’t so sure on beforehand. I found that The Good Immigrant managed to do plenty of both. Here we have 21 essays on being Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic in Britain today. Each essay captures an image of a different issue or challenge faced by immigrant’s every day from skin colour, language, religion, identity, judgement and violence (to name a few). The authors of these essays have grown up in this country, schooled in the U.K, worked for years alongside us, but they still have to battle for acceptance. The Good Immigrant aims to air some relevant and immediate issues, issues on both sides of this modern day concern for acceptance and unity.
Writers, teachers, actors, poets comedians and journalists from all around the U.K who have lived here all their lives discuss important topics like skin colour, identity, history and all the indignity, assumption and judgement they have to face on a daily basis. The frustrations of misinterpreted language; misconstrued religious backgrounds; of viewing yourselves of two nationalities and not truly fitting in with either and outright public racism or abuse. The writing is emotional, there is a lot of anger, confusion and anxiety. There is also a lot of humour and soft moments of clarity, where all the people sharing their experiences want is understanding and unity.
Each chapter in The Good Immigrant deals with a certain aspect of discrimination or being a BAME in modern day Britain. The chapter that really stood out to me was Airports and Auditions by Riz Ahmed. The essay Riz wrote dealt with the difficulty of being a minority post 9/11, of how his entire image and lifestyle was altered forever. From getting through airport security, with the endless questionings, to getting auditions for TV and movies. I felt it really highlighted the core of this book, how the people who appreciate the opportunity to live in the U.K will deal with any prejudice that comes their way to maintain their presence in Britain with the hope that acceptance is around the corner some day.
The Good Immigrant is packed with eye-opening stories, emotional writing and humorous anecdotes. I certainly recommend it to all readers, it is an important book that is part love letter to the U.K, part venting and it also a discussion of how everyone can move forward in the future with less prejudice and more understanding. I have given it 5/5 stars because it is diverse, meaningful and the writing is poignant, emotional and the book represents progress towards a culturally united Britain. Thank you for reading this review and please feel free to leave a comment on what you thought.
Thanks for stopping by to check out one of my past NF Reviews. The Good Immigrant is a fantastic read and I couldn’t recommend it enough to all readers. I have wanted to share this review on my WordPress page for a long time but never had the opportunity. I am glad I have done Non Fiction November so I could finally get the word out again about this amazing book.