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My Name Is Why

Lemn Sissay



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Canongate Classics
01 October 2019
Biography; Autobiography: general; Memoirs; Social discrimination
At the age of seventeen, after a childhood in a fostered 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 a childhood in care, 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.
By:   Lemn Sissay
Imprint:   Canongate Classics
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Edition:   Main
Dimensions:   Height: 220mm,  Width: 162mm,  Spine: 25mm
Weight:   422g
ISBN:   9781786892348
ISBN 10:   1786892340
Pages:   208
Publication Date:   01 October 2019
Audience:   General/trade ,  College/higher education ,  Professional and scholarly ,  ELT Advanced ,  Primary
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Lemn Sissay is an award-winning writer and popular broadcaster as well as being the author of five poetry books. He was made an Honorary Doctor of Letters by the University of Huddersfield and the University of Manchester. He was awarded an MBE by the Queen for services to literature. He was the official poet for the London 2012 Olympics. He has worked throughout the world and is patron of the Letterbox Club, supporting children in care. His Landmark poems can be found in London, Manchester, Huddersfield and Addis Ababa. In 2015 he was appointed Chancellor of the University of Manchester. He is British and Ethiopian. @lemnsissay |

Reviews for My Name Is Why

An extraordinary story * * Sunday Times * * 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 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 most amazing thing about this book is that it's not made up. This actually happened. It is an incredible story -- BENJAMIN ZEPHANIAH No Government Inquiry could ever expose the inhumanity of our nation's care system more effectively than this memoir. The evidence is all here. I wept at the sheer monumental cruelty of it. The racism. The crushing, degrading absence of respect and encouragement. The simple yearning for love and a sense of self. Lemn Sissay is a triumph of human survival. Shame on all of us that this happens in our midst -- HELENA KENNEDY QC Inspirational . . . My Name Is Why shows how resilience, determination and courage can be used to drive yourself forward to make a difference -- FLOELLA BENJAMIN Utterly devastating and beautiful . . . Breathtakingly written -- DOLLY ALDERTON A brave and beautiful book -- ROBERT WEBB This book is a terrifying, saddening, anger-making read. I hope millions of people will read it -- MICHAEL ROSEN This is a deeply moving memoir that speaks with incredible poeticism. A staggering expose of colonial theft and abandonment, this book is grippingly heartbreaking -- DAVID LAMMY

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

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