One of Them

By Musa Okwonga

An Eton College memoir

Tuesday, 28 July 2020

"How To Avoid Detection" now has a new title, and here's why.

Hi all,

Hope you're very well, and having a lovely summer (despite everything but, above all, the pandemic that dare not speak its name). I am just writing after a long silence to say that I am very happy with how the book has turned out, and that - having completed and signed off the final edits - I and the publishers feel that it deserves a new name. While "How To Avoid Detection" is a title I will always love, I and my publisher believe that there is a yet better one: One of Them.

Why "One of Them"? Because, first and foremost, this is a book about identity. This is a book about the positive and negative aspects of people looking at you as a member of a social or racial group and immediately thinking, he's "one of them", I know exactly what he's about. This book is about the nuances of all of that - of how I have been supremely privileged in so many situations, and supremely disadvantaged in so many others. And identity just feels like one of the biggest subjects of our age: it feels important, more than ever, to ask how our surroundings shape the people that we are, and which of their influences we can and perhaps should accept or reject.

So, "One of Them" it is. My editor, Rachael Kerr, suggested it to me after a thorough reading of my work: I thought it was such a strong idea that, even though I had grown attached to "How To Avoid Detection", I agreed to the new one shortly afterwards. (Some of you may recognise Rachael's name from her editing of The Good Immigrant. She did a fantastic job on "The Ungrateful Country", my essay in that book, to which One of Them feels like my prequel).

And there we go. I hope to be in touch sooner than last time with more news, which I will have as the summer proceeds, and closer to the publication date I will be seeing some of you in connection with your pledges (plenty of writing clinics coming up, for one thing). Looking forward to it. Wishing you all a lovely day - and if you know anyone else who might be interested in this book, please do spread the word. 

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