Biography: writers

Free

Free

Author: Lea Ypi Format: Hardback Release Date: 28/10/2021

'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.

Manifesto

Manifesto

Author: Bernardine Evaristo Format: Hardback Release Date: 07/10/2021

When Bernardine Evaristo won the Booker prize in 2019, aged 60, for her eighth novel Girl, Woman, Other, she made history. After 40 years in creative industries, everything changed as she became the first black woman to win the prize in the fifty years since its inception. This memoir is a page-turning, intimate and brave account of her life. Convinced that fame and success would come, this autobiographical story of her unstoppable journey towards her many accolades is an inspiration as she shares her life stages from her birth in Eltham in 1959 through her upbringing and cultural background, her influences and inspirations. One of 8 children of a fearsome Nigerian father and white English mother, we learn about her bi-racial childhood, early experiences of racism and the challenges of growing up as a mixed race woman which ultimately set Evaristo on the path of rebellion and freedom.   The chapters take us through her heritage as an independent middle child in an inter-racial family in a predominantly white area. Through her years as a nomadic Londoner living out of bin bags. Through the men and women who came and went, all culminating in her finding her soulmate. We see her creative journey from theatre-maker, writer of poetry to fiction and her becoming the award-winning writer she is today. The book concludes with her Manifesto. We see the potential, the possibilities, the rewards if you are brave enough, her refusal to conform and her passion for fighting for what she believes in. Although in her conclusion she concedes that these days instead of throwing stones at the fortress she sits inside its chambers having polite, persuasive persistent conversations about how best to transform outmoded infrastructures. She is formidable in every sense and I warmed to her and am inspired by her. She tells us of her addiction to the adventure of storytelling and I am in awe of that storytelling. Manifesto is about life, love, courage, community, creativity, activism and optimism. And I for one could not get enough of it. I’ll be pressing this book into the hands of people for years and imploring them to read it and everything she writes. We need more Evaristos in this world, that’s for sure. It’s a powerful manifesto from a trailblazer and a reminder that there is a manifesto in all of us.

Star Books
Burning Man

Burning Man

Author: Frances Wilson Format: Hardback Release Date: 27/05/2021

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.

Begin Again

Begin Again

Author: Eddie S. Glaude Jr. Format: Hardback Release Date: 14/01/2021

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.

Down and Out in Paris and London

Down and Out in Paris and London

Author: George Orwell Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/01/2021

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.