The Good Immigrant
Edited by Nikesh Shukla
“I approached my studies with a furious sense of mission: believing that, if I made a good impression here, I could help to erode some of our society’s firmest prejudices,” Musa Okwonga writes in this powerful collection of essays on what it means to live in Britain as a person who is black, Asian or otherwise minority ethnic. As the 21 writers grapple with their subject, they often find youthful expectations clashing with adult awakenings and with what Okwonga describes as the burden of the “bad immigrant” – the perception of minorities as benefit scroungers and job stealers. The Good Immigrant is a reminder of why Britain is at its best when it lifts that burden and why it loses so much when it lets it grow.
Unbound, 272pp, £14.99
Because man is a highly social being, shyness is seen not just as an inconvenience but as something debilitating. In his wide-ranging study, Joe Moran talks to sociologists, anthropologists, historians (Zeno, the founder of stoicism, is the first recorded shrinking violet) and biologists (some lemon sharks are shy), among others. A shy man, too, Moran finds the trait is not a bar to success – Charles Darwin and Agatha Christie were shy – and even offers alternative ways of experiencing life.
Profile Books, 280pp, £14.99
The Arab of the Future 2
Subtitled A Childhood in the Middle East, 1984-85 and translated by Sam Taylor, this is the second volume of a “graphic memoir” of Sattouf, a former Charlie Hebdo contributor who grew up in Syria and Libya and now lives in Paris. Like Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, the story captures wonderfully the disorientating effect of growing up between Arab and European cultures. Sattouf has a fine eye for the details and characters of his childhood in Syria, where the possibility of sudden violence was ever present.
Two Roads, 156pp, £18.99