Tuesday, 5 September 2017


Image result for the good immigrant

Really excited to share this post because guess what?! It's my first ever attempt to write a book review. Okay, so here goes...

I came across this book while mooching around The Marlow Bookshop and I instinctively knew that I had picked the right read for me. I guess I was drawn to the title so much because the topic of immigration has dominated political discourses and the headlines for quite some time now. What with Trump, the Charlottesville tragedy and the effects of Brexit still very much changing the lives of many people living here in the UK, I was so drawn to exploring further what the use of 'Good' Immigrant (as oppposed to what, a bad immigrant?) could mean. 

The book itself comprises of 21 short essays written from the point of view of black, Asian and ethnic minority groups living in the UK today. The book's central message is that society seems to deem people of colour as 'bad immigrants', job stealers or benefit scroungers until they win an Olympic race or win the Great British Bake Off for example, which suddenly means they 'cross over' and become a 'good immigrant'. 

Some of the essays deal with some very dark and thought provoking themes indeed. A girl with Indian heritage living in the UK talks about her everyday frustration with cultural misappropriation and the misuse of her native language. Her writing drips with dry humour as she expresses her frustration when people refer to 'naan bread', which simply translates into  'bread bread' in her culture and people who order a 'chai tea' in Starbucks (so a tea, tea then?) 

Another one of my favourite extracts is written by a black girl who writes her 'Guide to Being Black'  and she raises some really interesting points. She talks about being the only black person in the room when a Kanye song comes on at a party and her internal struggle when singing along to lyrics which contain the 'n' word. She also talks about being black as if it is a performance of some sorts in today's society, through the pressure to wear a weave in order to fit into white normalised beauty standards and black female casting in films, as the 'sassy black woman'. 

The book also addresses white name standardisation, a Malaysian woman's wish to be referred to as yellow rather than Asian and the fetishisation of the female Asian body. It's a difficult read at times and made me cringe at some parts, as I felt utterly frustrated with society's sheer ignorance towards 'non-white' people. For me, it's been the most poignant and thought provoking book I've read for quite some time. To listen to some of the voices of those who are 'othered' by society and who even consider themselves to be the 'other' was both emotional and eye-opening. 

It has made me despair even more about right wing populism, which is spreading through the world like some sort of horrible plague. As seen at the demonstrations we saw in Charlottesville, it's clear to see that language has the power to really hurt people and I would go so far as to say it destroys peoples' lives, now more so than ever. It must be so wounding to be constantly told to 'go home' to India for example, when your home is really London just because of the colour of your skin. Or to hear your native language misappropriated or to be made to feel like you're regarded as a potential threat by the rest of society...

Reading about the experiences of people who genuinely feel as if others don't seem to want or accept them, no matter how many generations they have been here for, has been heartbreaking to read. But nonetheless, it's an important read and an extremely relevant one. I want everyone to read this book!

Antonia x


No comments

Post a Comment

© Antonia Writes. All rights reserved.