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The Good Immigrant

Fifteen writers explore what it means to be Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic in Britain today by Nikesh Shukla

This book is published, but you can still pledge for rewards!


The Synopsis

Keep out, Britain is full up.

Or so goes the narrative of immigration in this country all too often. We are a country in flux – our media condemns refugees one day, sheds tears over them the next. Our narrative around immigration is built on falsehoods, stereotypes and anxieties about the diminishing sense of what Britishness means.

Meanwhile, we’re told that we live in a multicultural melting pot, that we’re post-racial. Yet, studies show that throughout the UK, people from BAME groups are much more likely to be in poverty (with an income of less than 60 per cent of the median household income) than white British people (Institute Of Race Relations). It’s a hard time to be an immigrant, or the child of one, or even the grandchild of one.

Unless you have managed to transcend into popular culture, like Mo Farah, Nadya Hussain or the other ‘good immigrants’ out there. It’s a bad time to be a bad immigrant. My conversation with Musa Okwonga about this led to the very generation of this collection. I said I wished there was a book of essays by good immigrants. He reminded of the Chinua Achebe quote, if you don’t like the story, write your own.

The Good Immigrant brings together fifteen emerging British black, Asian and minority ethnic writers, poets, journalists and artists. In these fifteen essays about race and immigration, they paint a picture of what it means to be ‘other’ in a country that wants you, doesn’t want you, doesn’t accept you, needs you for its equality monitoring forms and would prefer you if you won a major reality show competition.

The book will explore why we come here, why we stay, what it means for our identity if we’re mixed race, where our place is in the world if we’re unwelcome in the UK, and what effects this has on the education system. By examining popular culture, family, profession and the arts, we will be looking at diversity and questioning what this concept even means anymore. The essays are poignant, challenging, funny, sad, heartbreaking, polemic, angry, weary, and, most importantly, from an emerging generation of BAME writers.

Contributors to this extraordinary state of the nation collection will include: Musa Okwonga (poet/broadcaster), Chimene Suleyman (poet/columnist), Vinay Patel (playwright), Bim Adewumni (Buzzfeed), Salena Godden (poet/writer), Sabrina Mahfouz (playwright), Kieran Yates (journalist), Coco Khan (journalist), Sarah Sahim (journalist), Reni Eddo Lodge (journalist), Varaidzo (student), Darren Chetty (teacher), Himesh Patel (Tamwar from Eastenders), Nish Kumar (comedian), Miss L from Casting Call Woe (actor), Daniel York Loh (playwright and actor), Vera Chok (actor/writer), Riz Ahmed (actor/rapper), Inua Ellams (poet/playwright) and Wei Ming Kam (writer).

I’m been shouting about the need for more BAME voices for so long on Twitter. I’m glad I can finally do something about it.

The Reviews

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The Author

Nikesh Shukla is a writer.

His debut novel, Coconut Unlimited, was published by Quartet Books and shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award 2010 and longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize 2011. Metro described it as 'a riot of cringeworthy moments made real by Shukla's beautifully observed characters and talent for teen banter'. In 2011 he co-wrote an essay about the London riots for Random House with Kieran Yates, Generation Vexed: What the Riots Don't Tell Us About Our Nation's Youth. In 2013 he released a novella about food with Galley Beggars Press, The Time Machine, donating his royalties to Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation. The book won Best Novella at the Sabotage Awards.

His second novel, Meatspace, was published by The Friday Project. 'Like Douglas Coupland's Generation X,' according to the Guardian, 'this novel captures a cultural moment.' It's been lauded by the New Statesman, BBC Radio 4, the Independent on Sunday, and the Daily Mail.

His short stories have featured in Best British Short Stories 2013, Five Dials, The Moth Magazine, Pen Pusher, The Sunday Times, Book Slam, BBC Radio 4, First City Magazine and Teller Magazine. He has written for the Guardian, Esquire, Buzzfeed, Vice and BBC 2. He has, in the past, been writer in residence for BBC Asian Network and Royal Festival Hall.

In 2014 he co-wrote Two Dosas, an award-winning short film starring Himesh Patel. His Channel 4 Comedy Lab Kabadasses aired on E4 and Channel 4 in 2011 and starred Shazad Latif, Jack Doolan and Josie Long.

He currently hosts The Subaltern podcast, an anti-panel discussion featuring conversations with writers about writing. Guests have included Zadie Smith, Junot Diaz, Teju Cole, James Salter, George Saunders, Jennifer Egan, Evie Wyld, Sam Bain, Alex Preston, Colson Whitehead and more. He also co-hosts a podcast with sci-fi writer James Smythe, Meat Up, Hulk Out

Nikesh is represented by Julia Kingsford (books) at Kingsford Campbell and Georgina Ruffhead (film/TV) at David Higham Associates. If you want to get in touch with him directly, best bet is on Twitter

Questions & Answers

Justin Zaman Justin Zaman asked:

Not a question, but a comment. I am the eldest of three brothers, all now successful consultant doctors, with a barrister father forced to move to the UK following the 1971 civil war that formed Bangladesh, in which he and his new wife (mum) got trapped for a while in a city whilst the West Pakistani Army went on a killing spree of intelllectuals, who then didnt get much work in the London Law Chambers in the 1970s despite his Inner Temple training due to probably the skin colour he wore, who had to run a curry house (in which we lived above in two rooms during my run up to GCSEs as mum cooked in the kitchen next to the chefs) to get us three boys educated via a state grammar. Now my dad's grandchildren are shining and far away from the events of 1971 that led to this trajectory. My dad was too proud to claim for free school lunches even though we could have been entitled to it, and his determined attitude has been instilled in all his three boys. 'Work twice as hard to get the same outcome as someone with white skin' is what my dad told me in primary school. So we all did. All us 'Good Immigrants' have stories. Look forward to my copy.

Nikesh Shukla Nikesh Shukla replied:

Oh man, I love these 'twice as good' stories. I'd like to collect them on a Tumblr one day. All children of immigrants have one.

The Rewards

This book is now published. You can still pledge, but you won't get listed as a supporter in the back.

E-book edition.
Signed hardback (pre-order)
Pre-order a copy of the special edition, signed by Nikesh Shukla. (Books will be sent out when the 2nd print run is back in our warehouse after the signing.)
Special edition hardback and ebook.
  • Format: hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-78352-294-1
  • Format: hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-78352-295-8
  • Format: signed by all contribs
  • ISBN: 978-1-78352-294-1
  • Format: 2nd edition - signed hardback
  • ISBN: 978-1-78352-294-1