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One day my therapist said to me: “You are open to discussing your race. You are open to discussing your bisexuality. But you never talk about your five years at Eton College. You always seem to skim over it.”
Well, given that so many of Britain’s prominent political figures attended my boarding school, I have decided that it is time to stop skimming, and that is why I am writing this book. I had a great education there, and made many great friends. At the same time, I have often wondered why a place that was so good for me seems to be part of the harm that is being done to our country.
When I look back at my teenage years, I see the roots of two modern trends which largely seemed unthinkable back then. When I look at my time at Eton, I see the genesis of Brexit. When I look at my time growing up in a small suburb in Greater London, I see the rise of the far-right. My new book, How To Avoid Detection, will attempt to examine both.
Anyone who has ever read my work knows that it is often very personal. At the same time, I am frightened to write this, because in many ways I am still a very private person. But I think that I need to write this, because I do not think that we can understand modern Britain without an intimate exploration of race and class. I have always believed that to understand where we are going as a society, we need to understand how we got here, and so this book will be my contribution to that conversation.
There are times when this book will be angry, there will be times when it will be affectionate, but I can promise that it will always be honest. I hope that you will find it of interest.
ABOUT THE BOOK
- B-format paperback - 198 x 129mm
- 224 pages
- Unique, never-before-told story
- An important and timely look at race and class in modern Britain
- New pledge levels and stretch goals to be revealed
The cover design is for illustrative purposes only and is subject to change
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Musa Okwonga is a poet, journalist, broadcaster, musician, social commentator, football writer and consultant in the fields of creativity and communications. He has written on identity, sport, culture and society for a range of publications including Africa Is a Country, The Economist, ESPN, Foreign Policy, The Guardian, and The New York Times, for whom he wrote “Offsides”, their 2018 World Cup column on the intersection of football and politics. He has written and presented essays and programmes for BBC Radio Four and the BBC World Service, has lectured at several universities, and fans of his work include J.K. Rowling, Kate Tempest and Ed Sheeran. Musa was one of the contributors to the Unbound book The Good Immigrant. He is the co-host of the Stadio football podcast and is the author of two books on football, the first of which was nominated for the 2008 William Hill Sports Book of the Year, and the author of one collection of poetry. He lives and works in Berlin.
Surely is not a question.
Does anyone have any questions, asks your teacher.
Yes, says one of your classmates, leaning dangerously far back in his seat and clutching at the air as if it were a handrail on a swerving train. Your teacher nods for him to proceed.
Surely, Sir, the -
As your classmate continues to speak, your teacher looks at him in bemusement.
Where’s the question, your teacher asks.
Flustered, your classmate repeats himself.
Surely, Sir, the -
No, says your teacher. Any sentence that begins with surely is not a question.
Ah, says your classmate, and asks a question instead.
Your teachers are superb at this. They are the barbers of student self-esteem, masterfully shaving off excess ego wherever they see it, constantly challenging you. You never forget anything they say when they admonish you, often remembering their criticisms word-for-word. You recall one stage of a school debating contest, when, having watched you and your team-mate defeat an opponent, your teacher calls you over. You didn’t need to do that, he says, at some points you were mean today. You are taken aback by this, not because you think it is untrue, but because you suspected you were being too harsh in your manner, that you were aware that your tongue could wound and didn’t mind if it did. You take note of this, and you try to make sure not to do it again. You don’t need to win that way.
She reminds him of his maid.
You will never forget the day you are talking to someone who is very friendly with one of the wealthiest people in the school. One day, when describing his friend - someone who regarded him as his closest confidant - he tells you that the best thing about him is that at the end of the day he is fucking rich.
These people are helping to fund How to Avoid Detection.