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Britain transported some 3 million slaves but vanishingly few of them left a written record of their experiences. In her novels and works non-fiction, Sanjida O’Connell draws on the few fragments and memoirs that survive and on the rich but painful heritage of her native city, Bristol.
The distinctive culture created by African-Americans in the shadow of slavery and segregation has deep influence right across the world. Playwright and hip hop artist Jonny Wright, who grew up in Yorkshire, claims that culture – and its politics – as his own.
As a transracial adoptee, Katharine Quarmby wondered if her family stories – Yugoslav, English, Iranian – really belonged to her. Looking back, she asks herself which stories were real and which imagined, and concludes that adoption ‘cannot make you a writer, but it can help’.
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