Bookshelf: Kinship

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A contrasting collection of novels, essays and memoirs introducing unfamiliar communities while exploring notions of identity, empathy, culture, sex and human connection in contemporary experience. Handpicked by the POSTSCRIPT Team.



BORN A CRIME by Trevor Noah


A memoir and coming of age story from the current host of the US news programme, The Daily Show, this is a book that educates and entertains. Illegally born to a white, Swiss-German father and black, Xhosa mother, Noah’s grew up as an outsider in his own community, as a result of the absurd rules governing South Africa at the time. From being thrown out of the window of a moving car, to burning down a neighbour’s house, Noah paints a picture of a life unknown to most - a tale of a mischievous young boy growing up in an unusual and often dangerous environment.



An anthology of stories, essays and poetry, The Things I Would Tell You is a vibrant exploration of the intersections and undercurrents of what it means to be British and Muslim. More than that, by looking at themes from identity to cultural heritage and Tinder to religion, it showcases a diverse range of the often unrecognised literary talents of Muslim women while rejecting monolithic portrayals of the same.

FRESHWATER by Akwaeke Emezi


Taking inspiration from the tale of Ogbanjie children - children born over and over again, dying each time before reaching adulthood and torturing their parents. Akwaeke’s debut novel follows a Nigerian woman with splintering identities. Narrated in turn by each identity, it is a gripping first offering from a writer who strengths lie in their ability to depict - often uncomfortably - the eruptions of conflict and fractures inherent in identity formation.

THE POETRY OF SEX by Sophie Hannah


An anthology of sex spanning the musings of Shakespeare to Wendy Cope on the subject matter. Evidently little has changed over the centuries, whereby the selections, that range from ancient Rome to modern New York, incorporating gay and straight narratives, depict the same drive for desire, lust and passion. At times funny, romantic and sexy, Hannah described this collection as what she hoped would be, “the raunchiest poetry anthology of the year”.



“Empathy means acknowledging a horizon of context that extends perpetually beyond what you can see.” In Empathy Exams, Jamison explores often disconcerting truths about what we define as sites of understanding. She merges personal experience, both as a medical actor, and then as a patient, with reportage on topics such as poverty porn and reality television, in a thought-provoking collection of essays examining the challenges of and boundaries negotiated in our ability to acknowledge the humanity of others.

KINTU by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi


Here is a modern epic that portrays the complexities of both household and country. This multigenerational family saga explores the relationship between African mysticism, traditional storytelling and a contemporary Uganda. A debut novel for Makumbi, where she weaves her tale across decades, varied characters and rumoured curses, documenting the story of Uganda without tying it to any obvious historical roadmaps (colonialism or Idi Amin). An important read with a story that is hard to ignore.



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