'I never asked myself about the meaning of freedom until the day I hugged Stalin. From close up, he was much taller than I expected.' Lea Ypi grew up in one of the most isolated countries on earth, a place where communist ideals had officially replaced religion. Albania, the last Stalinist outpost in Europe, was almost impossible to visit, almost impossible to leave. It was a place of queuing and scarcity, of political executions and secret police. To Lea, it was home. People were equal, neighbours helped each other, and children were expected to build a better world. There was community and hope. Then, in December 1990, a year after the fall of the Berlin Wall, everything changed. The statues of Stalin and Hoxha were toppled. Almost overnight, people could vote freely, wear what they liked and worship as they wished. There was no longer anything to fear from prying ears. But factories shut, jobs disappeared and thousands fled to Italy on crowded ships, only to be sent back. Predatory pyramid schemes eventually bankrupted the country, leading to violent conflict. As one generation's aspirations became another's disillusionment, and as her own family's secrets were revealed, Lea found herself questioning what freedom really meant. Free is an engrossing memoir of coming of age amid political upheaval. With acute insight and wit, Lea Ypi traces the limits of progress and the burden of the past, illuminating the spaces between ideals and reality, and the hopes and fears of people pulled up by the sweep of history.
The powerful, urgent manifesto on never giving up from Booker prize-winning trailblazer, Bernardine Evaristo In 2019, Bernardine Evaristo became the first black woman to win the Booker Prize since its inception fifty years earlier - a revolutionary landmark for Britain. Her journey was a long one, but she made it, and she made history. Manifesto is her intimate and fearless account of how she did it. From a childhood steeped in racism from neighbours, priests and even some white members of her own family, to discovering the arts through her local youth theatre; from stuffing her belongings into bin bags, always on the move between temporary homes, to exploring many romantic partners both toxic and loving, male and female, and eventually finding her soulmate; from setting up Britain's first theatre company for Black women in the eighties to growing into the trailblazing writer, theatre-maker, teacher, mentor and activist we see today - Bernardine charts her rebellion against the mainstream and her life-long commitment to community and creativity. And, through the prism of her extraordinary experiences, she offers vital insights into the nature of race, class, feminism, sexuality and ageing in modern Britain. Bernardine Evaristo's life story is a manifesto for courage, integrity, optimism, resourcefulness and tenacity. It's a manifesto for anyone who has ever stood on the margins, and anyone who wants to make their mark on history. It's a manifesto for being unstoppable.
D H Lawrence is no longer censored, but he is still on trial - and we are still unsure what the verdict should be, or even how to describe him. History has remembered him, and not always flatteringly, as a nostalgic modernist, a sexually liberator, a misogynist, a critic of genius, and a sceptic who told us not to look in his novels for 'the old stable ego', yet pioneered the genre we now celebrate as auto-fiction. But where is the real Lawrence in all of this, and how - one hundred years after the publication of Women in Love - can we hear his voice above the noise? Delving into the memoirs of those who both loved and hated him most, Burning Man follows Lawrence from the peninsular underworld of Cornwall in 1915 to post-war Italy to the mountains of New Mexico, and traces the author's footsteps through the pages of his lesser known work. Wilson's triptych of biographical tales present a complex, courageous and often comic fugitive, careering around a world in the grip of apocalypse, in search of utopia; and, in bringing the true Lawrence into sharp focus, shows how he speaks to us now more than ever.
British Academy Book Prize shortlist A searing indictment of racial injustice in America - inspired by the life and work of James Baldwin - to help us understand the present moment, and imagine a new future into being The struggles of Black Lives Matter and the attempt to achieve a new America have been challenged by the presidency of Donald Trump, a president whose time in the White House represents the latest failure of America to face the lies it tells itself about race. For James Baldwin, a similar attempt to force a confrontation with the truth of America's racism came in the wake of the Civil Rights Movement, and was answered with the murders of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. In the years from the publication of The Fire Next Time in 1963 to that of No Name in the Street in 1972, Baldwin - the great creative artist, often referred to as 'the poet of the revolution' - became a more overtly political writer, a change that came at great professional and personal cost. But from that journey, Baldwin emerged with a sense of renewed purpose about the necessity of pushing forward in the face of disillusionment and despair. America is at a crossroads. Drawing insight and inspiration from Baldwin's writings, Glaude suggests we can find hope and guidance through our own era of shattered promises and white retrenchment. Seamlessly combining biography with history, memoir and trenchant analysis of our moment, Begin Again bears witness to the difficult truth of race in America. It is at once a searing exploration that lays bare the tangled web of race, trauma and memory, and a powerful interrogation of what we all must ask of ourselves in order to call forth a more just future.
Three francs will feed you till tomorrow, and you cannot think further than that... As a young man struggling to find his voice as a writer, George Orwell left the comfort of home to live in the impoverished working districts of Paris and London. He would document both the chaos and boredom of destitution, the eccentric cast of characters he encountered, and the near-constant pains of hunger and discomfort. Exposing the grim reality of a life marred by poverty, Down and Out in Paris and London, part memoir, part social commentary, would become George Orwell's first published work.