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Kit de Waal was born in Birmingham to an Irish mother, who was a foster carer and a Caribbean father. She worked for fifteen years in criminal and family law, was a magistrate for several years and sits on adoption panels. She used to advise Social Services on the care of foster children, and has written training manuals on adoption and foster care. Her writing has received numerous awards including the Bridport Flash Fiction Prize 2014 and 2015 and the SI Leeds Literary Reader's Choice Prize 2014. My Name is Leon is her first novel. She has two children.
Author photo © Justine Stoddart
Head to our 'Black Lit Matters' list to find more must-read novels by black writers.
This unique, incisive novel is an emotionally engrossing road-trip reinvention of Moby Dick with female characters, and a gripping mystery about what main protagonist Dinah is running from to find her place to call home. Seventeen-year-old Dinah has lived her whole life on a commune and now feels compelled to flee everything she’s ever known. After being home-schooled, a recent period in mainstream schooling has turned her world upside-down, as has turbulent upheavals at home, and then there’s the mystery of what happened between Dinah and new friend Queenie. She shaves off her hair, adopts a new name and flees, illegally driving a VW campervan (her version of Moby Dick’s Pequod ship) with a cantankerous one-legged neighbour for company. While driving, Dinah confronts her many demons, most of which stem from her confusing sense of identity. She’s mixed race, but feels neither black nor white, and she’s attracted to boys and girls. The road is bumpy, with many revelations and confrontations along the way. Eventually, though, Dinah realises that “the road that took you away has led you all the way back home”. This is a smartly-crafted novel with real resonance, a story that honestly and empathetically imparts an uplifting message to “Always be yourself first…find yourself and be yourself”. Head to our 'Black Lit Matters' list to find more must-read novels by black writers.
A very special and beautiful read that left my heart full of feelings. When she was young, Mona’s Dadda told her there was a trick to time, as she revisits the past can she reshape her future? Having fallen in love with Kit de Waal’s first novel My Name is Leon (do read it, it’s simply gorgeous), I just had to get myself a copy of The Trick to Time. I thought I would read a crafty few chapters before going out, however the words caught me to them and held on. I completely forgot I was meant to be leaving and was just a little late! I adore Kit de Waal’s writing, it reaches inside, to hidden depths of awareness I wasn’t even sure existed, and nudges them awake. She has a gift with words, seemingly simple, building thoughts and feelings until they develop into a heartfelt, vividly intense moving picture. As Mona visits the past, lives in the present, and looks to the future I found myself alongside her every step of the way. The Trick to Time is a book I will keep close to hand to reread again and again, and I imagine that I will discover a slightly different version each time I step inside the pages. Highly recommended, I have chosen it as one of my Liz Robinson picks of the month, and a LoveReading Star Book. Head to our 'Black Lit Matters' list to find more must-read novels by black writers.
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | Shortlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize 2017. This is such a gorgeously expressive novel, it just sings with intensity, and is impossible to put down. Nine year old Leon loves his little brother Jake and his mum, he looks after them both as best he can, when Leon and Jake have to go and live with Maureen, Leon hatches a plan. Kit de Waal writes with a beautiful, sincere energy, the simplicity of the tale told from Leon's point of view allows a complicated backdrop of emotions to shine through. At times my heart absolutely ached, yet there are also proper laughter blurting moments, and I just wanted to gather everybody up into a huge, squashy hug. The 80’s, with it’s curly wurlys, royal celebrations, and riots is the perfect setting. A gloriously motley collection of characters come to life, each and every one of them is indispensable, and each affected me in some way. ‘My Name is Leon’ is a stunning, eloquent, stinging paper-cut of a read, I fell in love with it, and in turn, it left me full of hope. Shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award 2016 Head to our 'Black Lit Matters' list to find more must-read novels by black writers.
It's an exciting day for Timothy Flowers. It's the third of November, and it's Friday, and it's his twenty-first birthday. When Timothy walks to his usual street corner to see his favourite special bus, he meets Charlie. Charlie is a builder who is desperate for Timothy's help because Timothy is very tall, six feet six inches. Timothy has never had a job before - or no work that he's kept for more than a day. But when Timothy and Charlie have to collect money from a local thug, things don't exactly go according to plan... Over the course of one day, Timothy's life will change for ever.
Leon ist neun und ziemlich dunkelhautig, sein Halbbruder Jake dagegen ganz blond und erst sechs Monate alt. Als ihre Mutter Sandra mal wieder richtig Pech mit einem Kerl hat, bleibt sie einfach im Bett liegen. Und Leon muss sich um Jake kummern, ihn wickeln, etwas zu Essen besorgen. Das fliegt natrlich irgendwann auf, das Sozialamt schaltet sich ein. Es bringt die beiden Jungs erst einmal bei Pflegemutter Maureen unter: bergewichtig, rothaarig, etwas nah am Wasser gebaut - man muss sie schon ein bisschen kennenlernen, um zu merken, was fr ein riesengroes Herz Maureen hat. Bald findet sich auch eine richtige Adoptivfamilie. Allerdings nur fr Jake, denn der ist ja klein und blond. Leon wei nicht mehr ein und aus vor Schmerz. Und er fasst einen Plan. Einen gefhrlichen Plan, in diesem heien Londoner Sommer 1981