Exotic England | Granta

Exotic England

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown

England may be a small country on a small island, but its inhabitants have always had a boundless curiosity about the world beyond their shoreline. From the nation’s modern origins in the Renaissance, travellers have eagerly roamed the globe and been enticed by the diversity and richness of other civilizations. And while this appetite for adventure has often been tainted by aggression or exploitation, the English have also carried within them a capacity to soak up new experiences and ideas and to weave them into every aspect of life back home, from language and literature to customs and culture. Here we trace this golden thread of otherness through five centuries of English history to reveal how it has shaped the buildings, flavoured the food, powered the economy, and created a truly diverse society.

Today, when England is no longer synonymous with Britain and the English ask themselves who they are, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown paints a sumptuous and illuminating portrait of who they have been and brings a fresh, invigorating perspective on what ‘Englishness’ really means.

  • Published: 07/04/2016
  • Paperback
  • ISBN: 9781846274206
  • 129x20mm, 336 pages

So much to savour in this dazzling, impeccably researched and continually eye opening book, our hidden braided histories brought beautifully to life

Meera Syal

[A] cri de coeur for a longed-for, much-needed, intelligent debate on the current state of multicultural England... For this reason alone, such a brave and optimistic book, with its effervescent style, must be celebrated

Independent

[A] rich account of England past and present... Decisive and penetrating

Vanessa Berridge, Sunday Express

The Author

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown is a leading commentator on race, multiculturalism and human rights, writing for the Independent and Guardian and appearing regularly on TV and radio. She has won many journalism awards, including the Orwell Prize in 2002. She is also the author of No Place Like Home (1995) and the IPPR report True Colours, on public attitudes to multiculturalism.

More about the author →

From the Same Author

The Settler's Cookbook

Through the personal story of Yasmin’s family and the food and recipes they’ve shared together, The Settler’s Cookbook tells the history of Indian migration to the UK via East Africa. Her family was part of the mass exodus from India to East Africa during the height of British imperial expansion, fleeing famine and lured by the prospect of prosperity under the empire. In 1972, expelled from Uganda by Idi Amin, they moved to the UK, where Yasmin has made her home with an Englishman. The food she cooks now combines the traditions and tastes of her family’s hybrid history. Here you’ll discover how shepherd’s pie is much enhanced by sprinkling in some chilli, Victoria sponge can be enlivened by saffron and lime, and the addition of ketchup to a curry can be life-changing …

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