The Good Immigrant – Edited by Nikesh Shukla – MINI BOOK REVIEW
“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.”
“To be an immigrant, good or bad, is about straddling two homes, whilst knowing you don’t really belong to either”
I’ve been meaning to read The Good Immigrant ever since it was released last year, especially after seeing the fantastic reviews which highlight how important this book is. When I requested it from my local library, I was 5th on the list (and usually you don’t have to wait at all!) and I think this only reiterates how relevant and vital this book has become.
The Good Immigrant is a collection of 21 short essays by various BAME voices on their experiences of growing up as a minority and the effect this has had on their lives. Every single essay spoke to me on a different level and raised various experiences of what it’s like to live in Britain, when you are treated differently, just because of your race, ethnicity etc. Some essays were funny, others were heartbreaking, but they all equally added something unique to this collection
This collection is so important to read and I can’t recommend it enough. For me, I found it very eye opening, especially in regard to issues that I haven’t necessarily thought about or considered before. This would make a fantastic addition to school libraries, but I think it’s important for everyone to read – no matter your age. The Good Immigrant couldn’t be more relevant. Definitely one of my favourite anthologies of all time!
Have you read this book? Are you planning to?
Let me know in the comments!