My Name Is Why

Lemn Sissay author


Publisher:Canongate Books

Published:2nd Jul '20


Available for immediate dispatch.

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My Name Is Why cover


'EXTRAORDINARY' The Times, 'BEAUTIFUL' Dolly Alderton, 'SHATTERING' Observer, 'INCREDIBLE' Benjamin Zephaniah, 'UNPUTDOWNABLE' Sunday Times, 'ASTOUNDING' Matt Haig, 'POWERFUL' Elif Shafak

At the age of seventeen, after a childhood in a foster family followed by six years in care homes, Norman Greenwood was given his birth certificate. He learned that his real name was not Norman. It was Lemn Sissay. He was British and Ethiopian. And he learned that his mother had been pleading for his safe return to her since his birth.

This is Lemn's story: a story of neglect and determination, misfortune and hope, cruelty and triumph.

Sissay reflects on his childhood, self-expression and Britishness, and in doing so explores the institutional care system, race, family and the meaning of home. Written with all the lyricism and power you would expect from one of the nation's best-loved poets, this moving, frank and timely memoir is the result of a life spent asking questions, and a celebration of the redemptive power of creativity.

A lyrical, painful and yet hope-filled memoir . . . Shattering, light-searching * * Observer * *
Searing . . . Unputdownable . . . My Name Is Why is authentic and beautiful, a potential game-changer in public attitudes to children raised in care. It's about bureaucratic cruelty and what happens when love is absent. Don't miss it * * The Times * *
An extraordinary story * * Sunday Times * *
The most amazing thing about this book is that it's not made up. This actually happened. It is an incredible story -- BENJAMIN ZEPHANIAH
I have never read a memoir like it. A blistering account of a young life in the hands of neglectful authorities. It's a quest for understanding, for home, for answers. Grips like a thriller. Astounding -- MATT HAIG
The great triumph of this work comes from its author's determination to rail against what he rightly diagnoses as this institutionally endorsed disremembering of black and marginalised experience. It is a searing and unforgettable re-creation of the most brutal of beginnings -- Michael Donkor * * Guardian * *
Utterly devastating and beautiful . . . Breathtakingly written -- DOLLY ALDERTON
This is a deeply moving memoir that speaks with incredible poeticism. A staggering exposéof colonial theft and abandonment, this book is grippingly heartbreaking -- DAVID LAMMY
A fascinating memoir . . . So powerful -- ELIF SHAFAK
The engaging transfiguring truth of My Name Is Why is like a baptism of truth - leaving you washed clean of lies and reborn in love. Profound in its kindness, intelligence and unselfish heart, this book is important and unputdownable -- JESSICA HYNES

  • Short-listed for The Biographers' Club Slightly Foxed Best First Biography Award 2019 (UK)
  • Short-listed for Parliamentary Book Awards 2019 (UK)
  • Short-listed for Gordon Burn Prize 2020 (UK)

ISBN: 9781786892362

Dimensions: 197mm x 130mm x 14mm

Weight: 180g

224 pages