A Change Is Gonna Come by Various Authors
|A Change Is Gonna Come by Various Authors
|Category: Short Stories
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy
|Summary: Fabulous anthology of short stories and poetry from BAME writers. Established authors, new voices, multiple genres - British YA has been crying out for a collection like this.
|Date: August 2017
A Change Is Gonna Come is an anthology of stories and poems interpreting the theme of change by twelve BAME writers. It's Stripes Publishing's response to the under-representation of BAME authors in the UK. And it's a great response. I loved it.
I feel bad because I want to summarise every single contribution to this collection but there are twelve and I don't have room. I loved that the book begins and ends with a poem, one from Musa Okwanga and one from Inua Ellams. We don't see enough poetry here in YA. It's diverse with story form too - you'll find kitchen sink contemporary, speculative dystopia, magic realism and historical fiction. It covers terrorism, racism, mental ill health, same sex love and, really, every topic under the sun that could be of interest to young people. It's brave and interesting and thoughtful and contemplative. And thought-provoking. I'm still pondering Nikesh Shukla's choice of neutral pronouns for a character who suddenly starts sharing Britain First videos on social media!
There are writers you will know: those already mentioned; Tanya Byrne, Catherine Johnson and more. And four new voices for YA. Remember their names: Mary Florence Bello, Aisha Bushby, Yasmin Rahman and Phoebe Roy. And ok, I'll own up. If I absolutely had to pick a favourite, it would be from one of these new voices - Marionette Girl by Aisha Bushby, which is about OCD and made me cry.
Representation matters. It's vitally important that British writers of colour are given platforms in a very white (and also very posh) publishing industry. And it's even more important that British young people of colour are able to pick up books and see themselves reflected. Nobody wants to be cast as an outsider and everybody wants to be recognised and depicted. And so A Change Is Gonna Come is welcome, particularly when it showcases new voices, doesn't forget about the illustrator and brings on board an editorial mentee - see? I am paying attention!
But it also matters in another way. Reading books is a vicarious experience. It builds empathy and depicts people and environments we haven't ourselves experienced. I might be old and haggard now but I was that child, never seen without her nose in a book. My world view has been formed by stories. I could still relate Roll Of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D Taylor to you scene by scene, such is the impact it had on me when I first read it, aged about thirteen back in the late 70s. It's the same with I Am David by Anne Holm - you look at a refugee crisis in a very different way when a story from childhood has resonated with you long into adulthood.
It's as vital for young people to read stories from voices outside their own perspective as it is for them to see themselves reflected. So to my mind, A Change Is Gonna Come is a win-win. And there isn't a weak link in the entire anthology. What more could you want?!
I'll Be Home For Christmas by Benjamin Zephaniah and Others is another fabulous short story collection from Stripes. If A Change Is Gonna Come appeals to you, we think you'll like this one.
You can read more book reviews or buy A Change Is Gonna Come by Various Authors at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy A Change Is Gonna Come by Various Authors at Amazon.com.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.