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This was Tariq Mehmood’s first novel, published by Penguin Books in 1983, charting the experience of the second generation migrants to the UK. Set in the declining textile industry of the North of England, it is a raw story of pain and anger at the relentlessness of British racism, from the street to the state – a story of an unquenchable desire for justice, and reclaiming human dignity. A dignity that is wrapped around new questions of Identity, a crossroad between religion, language, history and resistance. It is a little big story, that talks to the extremities of social, political and literary issues today? Can stories of a generation be appropriated? How important is religion in identity? If all you have is a story to tell, who should you tell it? Are the issues of today, just the issues of today or can we learn something from the past? In these stories, friendship is not defined by religion or colour, but by humanity. And racism is much more than skin deep.
An exhilarating read that bears witness to the urgent 80’s battles against state and popular racism. As important now as then.— Peter Kalu, novelist
The new edition has an introductory essay by Tariq Mehmood.
Nikesha Breeze has taken pages from Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, taken his words, and forced them to leave his colonized mind. She has made the words her own in poetic form. She illuminates the invisible Black voices inside, a radical, surgical, and unapologetic Black appropriation, at the same time as a careful birthing and spiritual road map. The resulting poems are sizzling purifications, violent restorations of integrity, pain, wound, bewilderment, rage, and, sometimes, luminous generosity.
The violent, scathing white supremacy of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness is traversed page by page and word by word in this brilliant prayer/poem—a work of reclamation, redemption, rescue, and repossession. — Wende Marshall, co-editor Insurrectionary Uprisings: A Reader in Revolutionary Nonviolence and Decolonization
First published in 1978, and winning the Martin Luther King Memorial Prize for that year, Finding a Voice established a new discourse on South Asian women’s lives and struggles in Britain. Through discussions, interviews and intimate one-to-one conversations with South Asian women, in Urdu, Hindi, Bengali and English, it explored family relationships, the violence of immigration policies, deeply colonial mental health services, militancy at work and also friendship and love. The seventies was a time of some iconic anti-racist and working-class struggles. They are presented here from the point of view of the women who participated in and led them.
This new edition includes a preface by Meena Kandasamy, some historic photographs, and a remarkable new chapter titled ‘In conversation with Finding a Voice: 40 years on’ in which younger South Asian women write about their own lives and struggles weaving them around those portrayed in the book.
A great interview with Amrit Wilson in Montreal Serai (October 4, 2020).
‘This book is a wonderful, important and necessary reminder of all the black feminist work behind us and all that is left to do.’ —Sara Ahmed, feminist writer and independent scholar, and author of Living a Feminist Life
‘Finding a Voice acquires a new significance in this neoliberal era…an indispensable archive as well as a narrative of a past that is not past but reactivated and recast…’ —Kumkum Sangari, William F.Vilas Research Professor of English and the Humanities, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
‘A ground-breaking book, as relevant today as it was in the seventies – and evidence, if ever such were needed, that the struggles of Asian, African and Caribbean women remain inextricably linked.’ —Stella Dadzie, founder member of OWAAD and author of Heart of the Race
‘Finding a Voice… was affirmation that our lives mattered, that our experiences with all their cultural complexities, mattered.’ —Meera Syal, British comedian, writer, playwright, singer, journalist, producer and actress.
‘This new edition comes at a time…when we are experiencing the growth of the surveillance state and when our narratives are being co-opted and used against us. Finding a Voiceis not only welcome, it is necessary.’ — Marai Larasi, Director, Imkaan; Co-Chair of UK’s End Violence Against Women Coalition.
Amrit Wilson is a writer and activist on issues of race and gender in Britain and South Asian politics. She is a founder member of South Asia Solidarity Group and the Freedom Without Fear Platform, and board member of Imkaan, a Black, South Asian and minority ethnic women’s organisation dedicated to combating violence against women in Britain. She was a founder member of Awaz and an active member of OWAAD. She is author, amongst other books, of Dreams Questions Struggles—South Asian women in Britain (Pluto Press 2006) and The Challenge Road: Women and the Eritrean revolution (Africa World Press 1991). The first edition of Finding a Voice: Asian Women in Britain won the the Martin Luther King Jr award.
It is the impact of oppression, racism and class which unifies South Asian women and the book comes at a time where we see the continued rise of the far right, misogyny, issues of class and the gig economy here and across the globe being played out in the media and perpetuated by male leaders going unchallenged by the state.
These new voices confirm how groundbreaking the book has been as a reference point for south Asian women now through listening to the voices of women from four decades ago, honouring their contribution and speaking in solidarity with them. As Wilson says in her introduction, it “reclaims our collective past as an act of resistance.”
An excellent read.
‘Reclaiming our collective past’: Amrit Wilson reflects on 40 years of anti-racist feminist work
By Sophia Siddiqui ARCHIVESPOLITICS 30th October 2018
A suicide bombing is being planned in a residential street in Manchester. Behind it lie Saleem Khan’s vivid memories – some full of regret and yearning, others humorous and yet others overshadowed by the surreal brutality of the war in Afghanistan.