REVIEW: Mother Country, Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff

Friday, 20 September 2019

A leading new exploration of the Windrush generation featuring David Lammy, Lenny Henry, Corinne Bailey Rae, Sharmaine Lovegrove, Hannah Lowe, Jamz Supernova, Natasha Gordon and Rikki Beadle-Blair. For the pioneers of the Windrush generation, Britain was 'the Mother Country'. They made the long journey across the sea, expecting to find a place where they would be be welcomed with open arms; a land in which you were free to build a new life, eight thousand miles away from home. This remarkable book explores the reality of their experiences, and those of their children and grandchildren, through 22 unique real-life stories spanning more than 70 years.

All too often the Windrush Generation is condensed into a single idea (or even a single boat) and fails the acknowledge the span of the countries and years involved in the mass migration of commonwealth citizens into the United Kingdom. Through this moniker, it is almost as though we are condensing history into the simplest of morsels to digest; simplified, white-washed, easily marketable. One that allows it to easily obscure the fact that it was the British Government who actively and furiously campaigned for more workers in the eve of the world wars and, once they had arrived, denigrated their culture, race, citizenship and patriotism for nigh on two generations.
Mother Country: Real Stories of the Windrush Children shows just how wrong that idea is. It is a collection that brings together stories from a range of individuals that span class, age and racial lines but it does not turn them into a growing crescendo. The idea, after-all, must have been all-too tempting but Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff manages to keep every voice separate, vivid; a story and life all to its own.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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