Dominating the news in the UK and around the world this week is the despicable treatment of the Windrush generation, a generation of Caribbean migrants who came to Britain after World War II to provide labour.
The name comes from HMT Windrush, a troopship that brought 492 migrant workers to Tilbury Docks, London on 22nd June 1948. These people were the first to land on our shores, and the name came to mean anyone that arrived in this movement, which lasted until 1971.
As those following the news will know, many of these people have been threatened with, or may have already been deported, due to new hostile immigration policy brought in more recently by the Conservative government. Policy that many people voted for. Policy that has effectively made these people illegal in retrospect.
The whole incident has made me feel pretty ashamed to be British this week, and while I can’t do much about my government’s policy, I can do a little to give voice to this generation, their service to my country and their enrichment of it. So here are eight books that I believe capture the Caribbean voices of that time, and the spirit of the Windrush generation:
The Pleasures of Exile – George Lamming
George Lamming is considered to be one of the most important West Indian emigrant voices of the time and The Pleasures of Exile was his first work of nonfiction, exploring identity, colonialism and what it was to be a West Indian in London.
The Lonely Londoners – Sam Selvon
Like many of the novels on this theme, The Lonely Londoners is a semi-autobiographical account of the migrant experience during the 1940s and 1950s. Considered to be one of the greatest London novels of the 20th century, it’s funny, touching and moving.
City of Gold – Colin McInnes
City of Gold is one of the few books on the list that isn’t written by a Caribbean voice but the London Trilogy is an important part of the story. It’s London, 1957 and liberal England is about to learn the legacy of the Commonwealth. A unique and inspiring read.
The Emigrants – George Lamming
First published in 1954, the Emigrants is an intricate novel following the process of the emigrant journey, settling in, and the exploration of the alienation and displacement caused by colonialism. George Lamming is the only author who appears in this list twice, once for nonfiction, once for fiction, as he’s believed to be one of the most important voices on this period of history.
To Sir With Love – E. R Braithwaite
Rick Braithwaite was an RAF pilot and fought in World War II so when the British Guianan couldn’t find employed in engineering because of the colour of his skin, he was pretty shocked. In desperation he turns to teaching, taking a job in a tough East London school. To Sir with Love is probably the most well known book on the list, and has been made into a movie too.
Small Island – Andrea Leavy
Andrea Leavy’s father sailed here in 1948 on the Windrush, and this novel is set around the same time. The only contemporary novel on the list, Small Island is an award winning novel that explores the difficulties in communities, the conflicts that immigration brought and what life was for everyone, whatever their colour, after World War II.
Lovers and Strangers – Claire Wills
As well as novels and memoirs, we’ve included a couple of nonfiction reads, specifically about this period in history. The first of these is Lovers and Strangers, Longlisted for the 2018 Orwell Prize. An important book, it gives voice to this generation, and could not have been released at a better time (out 5th April).
Today we’re going to take a look at the best new releases, out or coming out soon that feature the latest royal couple. Here they are, along with release dates and information.
The name comes from HMT Windrush, a troopship that brought 492 migrant workers to Tilbury Docks, London on 22nd June 1948. These people were the first to land on our shores, and the name came to mean anyone that arrived in this movement, which lasted until 1971. Read More
When the Civil War began, Tubman worked for the Union Army and was the first woman to lead an armed expedition when she led the raid at Combahee Ferry, which liberated more then 700 slaves. Read More
Since he has taken office, President Trump has done a pretty good job at offending the rest of the world. A while ago he banned travellers from many Muslim countries and we responded by featuring a list of books from the Muslim ban list. Read More
All the series we’ve chosen are complete so there’s no waiting for the next book in the series, and they’re all available as complete box sets, with lovely cover art, making the perfect complete gift. Read More