8 Books that Capture Caribbean Voices and the Spirit of the Windrush Generation

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 Pleasures of Exile US
The Pleasures of Exile UK

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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.

The Lonely Londoners US
The Lonely Londoners UK

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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.

City of Gold US
City of Gold UK

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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.

The Emigrants US
The Emigrants UK

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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.

To Sir with Love US
To Sir with Love UK

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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.

Small Island US
Small Island UK

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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).

Lovers and Strangers US
Lovers and Strangers UK

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Windrush – Mike Phillips & Trevor Phillips

Our second nonfiction for the list and our final book today is Windrush, full of first hand accounts, eye witness perspectives and stories from those affected and embraced by multiculturalism since 1948.

Windrush US
Windrush UK

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FRA Readers’ Choice Top 20: October

By | Hit of the Lits! | No Comments
Another month has flown by and it’s time for a new Top 20. Each month we list your top 20 reads of the month, chosen by members of our reading group, The Cwts @ Reading Addicts.

This month we see the same book in the number 1 spot for a second month, it’s proven to be a massive bestseller and is now the top of our top 20 for two months running! Have you read any of the books below? We hope you enjoy the recommendations. Read More

FRA Readers’ Choice Top 20: September

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Another month has passed as the year races by and now we’re into September and if you’re looking for some reading suggestions then we have the FRA Top 20, chosen by members of our reading group, The Cwts @ Reading Addicts.

Every month we ask the group members to let us know what their favourite read was from the previous month. Those results are then collated, giving us a top 20 recommended reads for the following month. Here’s September!  Read More

Obama Shares What He’s Been Reading This Summer

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It’s always interesting to know what any public figure has been reading lately, but even more so when that public figure also happens to have been the 44th President of the United States. Every so often, Barack Obama takes to his official Facebook page to let us know what he’s been reading and what he’d recommend.

Obama published a post on Sunday evening detailing five books, both fiction and non-fiction, that he’s been reading over the Summer. “One of my favorite parts of summer is deciding what to read when things slow down just a bit, whether it’s on a vacation with family or just a quiet afternoon,” he wrote. “This summer I’ve been absorbed by new novels, revisited an old classic, and reaffirmed my faith in our ability to move forward together when we seek the truth. Here’s what I’ve been reading: Read More

4 Brilliant Leon Uris Books

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Leon Uris (3rd August, 1924 – June 21, 2003) was an American author of historical fiction who wrote many bestselling books. Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Uris was the son of Jewish American parents Wolf William and Anna Uris. His father was a Polish born immigrant, his mother a first generation Russian American.

Uris was six years old when he was first recognised for his literary skills when he wrote an operetta inspired by the death of his dog. He would go on to write many bestselling works, based around major political and historic events. Today we’re going to recommend four books you may like to try. Read More

FRA Readers’ Choice Top 20: August

By | Hit of the Lits!, Literature | No Comments
Those who have been around a while will remember our Hit of the Lits feature, a top 20 of the books you’ve loved in the previous month. Well on popular request we’re giving this feature a reboot with a new name and a new layout.

Last month we created a poll in our reading group The Cwts, and that poll has run all month giving you the chance to add your favourite read from the last thirty days. With July now over we have our top 20 for August and here it is, the readers’ choice top 20 for August.

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Obama Reveals What He’s Been Reading Prior to Visiting Africa

By | Discussion and Recommendations, News, Reading Habits | No Comments
For the first time since he left office, the former President of the United States, Barack Obama, has returned to Africa where he spent time in both Kenya (his ancestral home) and South Africa. There he met 200 young leaders from all over the continent and made a speech to commemorate the 100th birthday of Nelson Mandela.

Prior to his visit, Obama published a post on his official Facebook page where he wrote about his love for his ancestral home, and revealed what books he’s been reading in the build up to his trip. As you would expect, the books are from and about the continent of Africa and show what a diverse, historic, sometimes troubled, but also extraordinary continent it is. Not only has Obama recommended the books, but also provided a quick insight as to why he found them interesting. Read More



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