CELEBRATING BRITISH WRITERS OF COLOUR

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Read the new Breaking Ground: Celebrating Writers of Colour booklet


Speaking volumes has begun the next chapter of the Breaking Ground project with the launch of a new booklet celebrating writers of colour. We hope that the booklet will be a valuable resource both at home and overseas, demonstrating the wide and varied literature of the UK whilst raising the profile and giving a platform to 200 contemporary British BAME authors.

Read the brochure in full by clicking on the link below

NORMAN SAMUDA SMITH SOUNDS BEAUTIFUL

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Norman Samuda Smith is a talented Author and former playwright. He is the first black British born novelist to be published in the UK, what an accolade to have under your belt. He has achieved so much and is so understated, but has done a plethora of work in which opened doors through his writing of what it was like growing up as a black person in the UK. In 2013, Norman self-published three of his books, Britannia's Children, Freedom Street, and in celebration of its 30th Anniversary, his ground-breaking novel Bad Friday; which was published in 1982 and republished in 1985. In a rare appearance, we at Sounds Beautiful Radio hosted a two part thoughtful and personal interview by our very own presenter 'Westfield John'. It was a pleasure having Norman come into the studio for this interview. So sit back and listen to part 1 of the full account of his surprising stories here... 

Part 2 of Author Norman Samuda Smith; interviewed by radio presenter 'Westfield John' here...  
http://soundsbeautiful.podomatic.com/entry/2016-02-17T01_55_25-08_00

BAD FRIDAY BOOK REVIEW

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Bad Friday by Norman Samuda Smith
Rating: 5 of 5 stars 

What the readers are saying about it...
'When Norman Samuda Smith wrote Bad Friday, he became our first black British born novelist - he became a pioneer who spoke for a generation whose voice had yet to be heard in the long narrative form. Norman Samuda Smith and Bad Friday were born and made in Britain, where he put pen to paper.' *****
James Pogson (Writer) February 2013
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 'I read Bad Friday before I met Norman and felt it was good then: a novel about school leavers set in inner-city Small Heath Birmingham (UK) among the Afro-Caribbean community in the 1970s. It uses the dialogue of the community skillfully to tell an affecting story. What's amazing (to me) about it is the author's youth when he wrote it - he was only 17, and in his earlt 20s when it was first published, but he shows a mastery of narrative.' *****
Alan Beard (Author) January, 2001
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'Around 16 years ago, when I when starting to write my first novel, I was eager to find past examples, or 'blueprints', which would provide inspiration for what I was about to do. Although I found many noteworthy stories from across the African Diaspora, I was looking for something set in Britain. And then I was gifted Bad Friday - a novel I have to this day. It was instrumental in letting me know that what I evisioned was achievable, and that a rich, Black British AND working class literary culture had been realised by others before me. It was liberating to read, and I'm heartened to know this book will be made available to others. It's a long unsung milestone, and I hope that, with this reprint, that will change.' *****
Courttia Newland (Author/Screenwriter/Playwright) October 2013 
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'Excellant book!! The final paragraph on the back cover gives definition to the struggles we faced in our youth. There are very few credible books that speak to an almost forgotten group - Black British people growing up in the 1970s. Great context and real characters who make this a page turning read.' *****
Winifred V. Williams (A satisfied reader - Washington D.C) November 2015
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'Norman wrote Bad Friday when he was only 17. The book has a great depth to it from innocence to the harsh realities of life. The characters are all well-defined, a mixture of emotions, joy, sorrow, dreams, love and the escape through music via 'Sound Systems' - Norman has a real talent.' *****
John Miller (A satisfied reader - Birmingham UK) December 2015.
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 Read what they said about Bad Friday back in the day here...
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 ISBN: 9781784071110 - Total Pages: 237
Published: 29 October 2013
AVAILABLE ON AMAZON 
UK READERS GO TO: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bad-Friday-Norman-Samuda-Smith/dp/1784071110/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8
US READERS VISIT: http://www.amazon.com/Bad-Friday-Norman-Samuda-Smith/dp/1784071110/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8 

ALSO  AVAILABLE http://www.feedaread.com/books/Bad-Friday-9781784071110.aspx

Watch the Bad Friday book trailer here...

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THE BACK TO WORK PROGRAMME

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Check out Norman Samuda Smith's latest story @ Timbooktu  click the link below...
http://www.timbooktu.com/normski/workprog.htm
    

RASTA LOVE


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From the archives of New Style Radio, Birmingham UK - April 3 2005 - The Ava Ming Show: Norman Samuda Smith reads an excerpt from his story "Rasta Love" one of the eleven from his book Britannia's Children: A Collection of Short Stories.

Get your copy of Britannia's Children here... 
US readers visit here 



Listen to RASTA LOVE by Norman Samuda Smith here 
Rasta love BY NORMAN-SAMUDA-SMITH

BLITZ CITIES


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The aftermath of the German bombing blitz of Birmingham 1940   
DAVID HAREWOOD
Former Son of Small Heath now Hollywood actor David Harewood travels back to his native Birmingham, UK to look at his city’s Blitz story. During the second world war, Birmingham’s factories were crucial to war production, and although the city was heavily bombed, much of the destruction was kept secret. David uncovers this story and talks to victims of the Blitz. He also goes up in a small plane to recreate the German bombing raids – from the sky he is able to see that the house where he grew up in on Oldknow Road in Small Heath, was sandwiched between two major targets. Watch the episode here…
Check out the article published November 2012 here on PANTHER NEWSLETTERTRIBUTE TO THE SONS AND DAUGHTERS OF SMALL HEATH here…
   

BOOK REVIEWS

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Britannia’s Children by Norman Samuda Smith

Our rating: 5 of 5 stars

Norman Samuda Smith’s BRITANNIA’S CHILDREN 

© 2015 Beresford Callum   


‘If you haven’t purchased and read BRITANNIA’S CHILDREN by Norman Samuda Smith, here are my reasons why you should…’ 

An anthology of short stories which together not only represents a time capsule of black British youth experiences between the 1960s and possibly the late 1970s, Britannia’s Children by Norman Samuda Smith (2013), is also an organic record of the author’s Journeys. I read this book several times; first for leisure. Secondly, I read to establish a chronology other than that given by the year each story was written, for I felt so familiar with the setting and characters of each story I was forced to ask the questions Who and When? Lastly, I read to harvest the information between the lines. The hidden having dissected and critically analyzed Smith’s stories I found Britannia’s Children to be original, honest, inspirational and humbling. 

As a book for leisure the mention of the familiar (for example Birmingham City Center, Grange Road Park and the Small Heath Community Center) evoked the feeling of nostalgia. At the most basic level it did for me and will do for the Birmingham populace; particularly if one traverses the Small Heath area, what the books of famous crime novelist Patricia Cornwell did for residents of the city of Richmond, Virginia (United States). Cornwell, having an intricate knowledge of Richmond used the City’s various locales as a backdrop to her stories. Just knowing that one shared the same knowledge as the writer not only spurred local interest, it boosted sales and often triggered heated discussion as to her accuracy. Every story triggered ten stories for me thus setting me on an emotional roller coaster. 

Reading between the lines I found the first four stories 1981 through 1985 to be very revealing. Careful scrutiny of these stories; all of which have been presented in chronological order, gives a rough insight to Smith searching to find his dialect, his medium of expression and his true voice. As I read the stories I made note of the writer’s use of Caribbean colloquialism, British slang and of course standard English. As Smith grew more confident and comfortable Caribbean colloquialisms were less forced and he interjected some British working class slang. By Rasta Love it was a Standard English texture in varying degrees by colloquialisms and slang determined by situation. The book is truly an excellent example of hybridization.  

Having written the above I must say I was not only pleasantly surprised by its contents, it was difficult keeping my comments objective. A contemporary of Smith’s from infant through to Secondary school up until 1973, Britannia’s Children appealed to me at multiple levels. Every story triggering ten stories thus causing my emotions to undulate as if riding on a roller coaster. There were very few stories in which I did not seem to be directly or indirectly involved but I can testify to the authenticity. 

In the story “Who Can’t Hear Must Feel!” (Verse 1), the names Wendell and Leroy used in this tale are undoubtedly pseudonyms; I actually know who these two particular boys are. However, even if I did not, we all have knowledge of the family structure that they represent. I was one of those kids harmlessly begrudged for being able to play in the Park every day. The Grange Road Park was my backyard. Less known were the circumstances which made our freedom possible. Along with four other families, my family lived in a row house on Charles Road. With multiple sets of children in a rooming house and a backyard that was essentially a dump there was little room for play. Fortunately, the windows of the second floor kitchen used by my mother and the attic in which we lived both gave my parents panoramic views of the Grange Road Park. Being able to watch my every move I was given the false sense of freedom. This was true for several of my peers that played in the park daily, we were what are referred to in Caribbean culture as ‘one room pick ninny’. I find it humorous that while I begrudged Wendell and Leroy for their small private backyard, they begrudged me for my compulsory freedom. My parents would say, “Buoy!! The grass is not greener over the fence, just depends on how the sun shine pon it”. I guess they were right. 

While I am familiar with the Streets named, I know nothing of Small Heath sound systems and dance hall life as portrayed in Rasta Love. I was plucked out of Birmingham before completing secondary school. My party experience in Birmingham is restricted to the summer of 1988. Similarly, my experience with the Small Health Community Center is limited to two evenings of indoor football. The stories in which they are mentioned however are very powerful triggers. I could see the houses on Muntz Street from our attic. Once being a truant from school I watched two houses on fire being put out by the firemen. Then related the events to my father, was my undoing. He realized I could not possibly have been at school and witnessed the fire. I will never forget that thrashing!! The characters Robo, Pedro and Beres who play active roles in the story are very real to me. These were the names of my peers with whom I (Smith included) ate lunch, walked to and from school, every day for a number of years. These names are those of the Alston Boys Secondary School crew, we huddled together as birds of a feather, played football, cricket, basketball and even sang on the school choir. 

I was a member of that 1972 football team written about in the story titled The Football Match. I could never for the life of me recall the ending score or what precipitated the match. What I always remembered was fighting an Irish guy Mickey Jaggers. Also normally if we had to be on the Ritz field after school, the crew would exit the field on the Yardley Green end and walk it home via Green Lane as we all lived, on that side of Small Heath. However, on this particular evening for more than just having had a hard game of football, I was hurting all over. I forgot about comradery, somehow exited on the Little Bromwich Road side , walked to the number 54 bus stop not too far from the Ritz, used my last two pence to catch the bus and ‘draw mi half dead ass’ home. 

Lastly, depending on one’s experiences stories can be a powerful stimuli, Smith’s stories for me were like a shot of adrenaline given to the dying. Having completed Britannia’s Children I had a eureka moment; as a child of Small Heath this did not only plot the author’s Journeys, they were milestones of my own. 

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BRITANNIA’S CHILDREN by Norman Samuda Smith 

© Naiobi James 2013 


WOMAN is the story of Ivey and her life as she lived it for forty years. She left Jamaica as a young woman and went to England. Once there she studied to become a nurse, married, had children and was now a grandmother. On the eve of her sixtieth birthday, after a party to celebrate, she realized that forty years had gone by and she’d never returned to her family; realized that it was too long a time to spend away from those she’d left behind in Jamaica. She felt it was time to plan a vacation; it was time to go home… 

LIZA is the story of a young girl who was raised by very stern parents. They insisted she have the education they didn’t and forbid her to date or have boyfriends as they would get in the way of her schoolwork. Liza wanted to be a lawyer but her mother would have none of that; she wanted her daughter to become a doctor, to give back to her fellow man so, under duress, that is what Liza decided to do. She aced her first year; studied hard and won grants to continue her education. She was her family’s shining star. Then she met Barry. How could so much positive turn into a very big and dark negative? 

These are just two of the stories you’ll find in Britannia’s Children, a collection of short stories by Norman Samuda Smith. 

Written in Jamaican patois, I felt drawn into the culture as I experienced the pain, joy, frustration and successes of the characters peppered throughout the book. There are lessons to be learned in this book; does Who Can’t Hear Must Feel make you think of a few? 

Britannia’s Children is a look through the lenses of life; a colorful slice of the lives of the people you’ll meet as you turn the pages. It will show you that no matter who you are or where you come from, there are lessons and experiences that we all share in one form or another. 

I enjoyed this book and I know you will too, especially if your roots are in Jamaica and you haven’t been home in a while. 

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BRITANNIA'S CHILDREN by NORMAN SAMUDA SMITH 
© John Miller 2015
"Britannia's Children is a very good read, sad and entertaining AND thought provoking..."  
Britannia's Chidren is about black people in Britain and their children's struggle to find their identity and their place in a white society from the 1950's. There are a lot of parallels with white children's upbringings by their parents after the aftermath of the 2nd World War. It's a very good read, sad and entertaining AND thought provoking.
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AVAILABLE ON AMAZON

UK READERS GO TO: http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B001KMCRD0 

US READERS VISIT: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B001KMCRD0

ALSO AVAILAIBLE @ www.feedaread.com/books/Britannias-Children-9781782991656.aspx 

Watch the Britannia’s Children book trailer below