World Book Day 2020 - Breaking Barriers

World Book Day 2020

We've created a reading list that you won’t be able to put down!


Breaking Barriers

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Today is World Book Day and to mark the occasion the team at Breaking Barriers have created a reading list that you won’t be able to put down.

As a team, we have recommended a whole library of books. The library has been created to shine a light on authors who are refugees or from a refugee background, it also includes good reads to learn more about the cause, and there are some recommendations in there for readers looking for storylines that bring a sense of belonging in the UK. Happy reading and be sure to share this resource with your friend.

Authors we should know ✍️🌟🙌

Nadifa Mohamed 

Nadifa Mohamed was born in Hargeisa (now in the Republic of Somaliland) in 1981 and moved as a child to England in 1986, staying permanently when war broke out in Somalia.

She lives in London and her first novel, Black Mamba Boy, based on her father’s memories of his travels in the 1930s, was published in 2010. It was longlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction and the Dylan Thomas Prize and shortlisted for the John Llewellyn-Rhys Memorial Prize and the Guardian First Book Award.

Nuruddin Farah

Nuruddin Farah, (born 1945, Baidoa, Italian Somaliland now in Somalia), Somali writer who was known for his rich imagination and refreshing and often fortuitous use of his adopted language, English. He was widely considered the most significant Somali writer in any European language.

Over 45 years, Farah has pursued complex, elusive truths as one of Africa’s greatest novelists, and a cosmopolitan voice in English-language fiction. 11 of his novels (translated into 20 languages) are set in Somali-speaking lands, one impulse being to “keep my country alive by writing about it”.

Hashi Mohamed

Hashi Mohamed is a barrister at No5 Chambers and a broadcaster at the BBC.

In 2010, he joined The Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn and completed his pupillage at 39 Essex Street Chambers in 2012. Hashi practices in public law and commercial litigation related cases, though his main area of focus is Planning & Environmental law. He has been consistently listed as one of the highest rated planning barristers in England & Wales under the age of 35 in the Planning Magazine’s annual Planning Legal Survey.

He regularly presents documentaries on BBC Radio 4 and writes for various publications including the Times, the Guardian and Prospect Magazine.

Hashi’s debut book People Like Us: What it Takes to Make it in Modern Britain will be published by Profile Books in January 2020.

Monica Ali

Monica Ali is the daughter of English and Bangladeshi parents.

She came to England aged three, her first home being Bolton in Greater Manchester, and later studied at Oxford University. Her first novel, Brick Lane (2003), is an epic saga about a Bangladeshi family living in the UK, and explores the British immigrant experience. It was shortlisted for the 2003 Man Booker Prize for Fiction, and made into a film, released in 2007.

Her second novel, Alentejo Blue, set in Portugal, was published in 2006, and her third, In the Kitchen, in 2009. Monica Ali lives in London and was named in 2003 by Granta magazine as one of 20 ‘Best of Young British Novelists’. Her latest novel is Untold Story (2011).

Zadie Smith

Novelist Zadie Smith was born in North London in 1975 to an English father and a Jamaican mother. She read English at Cambridge, graduating in 1997.

Her acclaimed first novel, White Teeth (2000), is a vibrant portrait of contemporary multicultural London, told through the story of three ethnically diverse families. The book won a number of awards and prizes, including the Guardian First Book Award, the Whitbread First Novel Award, and the Commonwealth Writers Prize (Overall Winner, Best First Book). It also won two EMMA (BT Ethnic and Multicultural Media Awards) for Best Book/Novel and Best Female Media Newcomer, and was shortlisted for the Mail on Sunday/John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, the Orange Prize for Fiction and the Author’s Club First Novel Award. White Teeth has been translated into over twenty languages and was adapted for Channel 4 television in 2002.

Lemn Sissay

A restless polymath – poet, playwright, musician, producer, stand-up comedian – he tours relentlessly, bringing his distinctive brand of performance poetry to the nation.

Lemn Sissay’s childhood has informed much of the work he has created. Ripped away from his Ethiopian mother in infancy, he endured over a decade of mistreatment and wilful cruelty in the British care system. The heartache and anger of his youth alternate in his poetry with lighter, whimsical aphorisms and celebrations of place, particularly his beloved Manchester. He is author of five collections of poetry as well as numerous stage and radio plays and has cemented his reputation as an urgent yet compassionate voice in British cultural life.

Books to learn more about the sector 📒📚📖

We Are Displaced: My Journey and Stories from Refugee Girls Around the World – From Nobel Peace Prize Winner Malala Yousafzai

We Are Displaced is her powerful and timely follow-up. As a work of oral history it is astonishing reminder of the collective power of personal testimony. Poignant and at times harrowing, nevertheless the lasting impression of these accounts is one of hope and resilience that crucially puts a human face to what is all too often reduced to a catalogue of statistics.

Refuge: Transforming a Broken Refugee System – Alexander Betts (author)Paul Collier (author)

Europe is facing its greatest refugee crisis since the Second World War, yet the institutions responding to it remain virtually unchanged from those created in the post-war era. Going beyond the scenes of desperation which have become all-too-familiar in the past few years, Alexander Betts and Paul Collier show that this crisis offers an opportunity for reform if international policy-makers focus on delivering humane, effective and sustainable outcomes – both for Europe and for countries that border conflict zones. Refugees need more than simply food, tents and blankets, and research demonstrates that they can offer tangible economic benefits to their adopted countries if given the right to work and education. Refuge

Who am I, again? – Lenny Henry (author)

Fizzing with Lenny Henry’s customary hyperactive energy and dynamism, Who Am I Again? charts the comedy titan’s journey from performing prodigy to mainstream entertainer with wit, honesty and immense charm. Tackling the casual racism he received as a teen and the stresses and strains of fame, this is a rounded, thoughtful memoir as well as a deliriously funny one.

Things Fall Apart – Penguin Modern Classics – Chinua Achebe (author)Biyi Bandele (author of introduction)

‘The writer in whose company the prison walls fell down’

– Nelson Mandela

Okonkwo is the greatest wrestler and warrior alive, and his fame spreads throughout West Africa like a bush-fire. But when he accidentally kills a clansman, things begin to fall apart.

Then Okonkwo returns from exile to find missionaries and colonial governors have arrived in the village. With his world thrown radically off-balance, he can only hurtle towards tragedy.

First published in 1958, Chinua Achebe’s stark, coolly ironic novel reshaped both African and world literature, and has sold over ten million copies in forty-five languages. This arresting parable of a proud but powerless man witnessing the ruin of his people begins Achebe’s landmark trilogy of works chronicling the fate of one African community, continued in Arrow of God and No Longer at Ease.

Chinua Achebe (b. 1930) was raised in the large village of Ogidi in Eastern Nigeria, and graduated from University College, Ibadan. The author of more than twenty books – novels, short stories, essays and collections of poetry – Achebe received numerous honours from around the world, including honourary doctorates from more than thirty colleges and universities. He was also the recipient of Nigeria’s highest award for intellectual achievement, the Nigerian National Merit Award. In 2007, he won the Man Booker International Prize for Fiction. He died in 2013.

Second Class Citizen – Heinemann African Writers Series – Buchi Emecheta (author)

Buchi Emecheta, in full Florence Onyebuchi Emecheta, (born July 21, 1944, Lagos, Nigeria—died January 25, 2017, London, England), Igbo writer whose novels deal largely with the difficult and unequal role of women in both immigrant and African societies and explore the tension between tradition and modernity.

The Lightless in the Sky -My Journey to Safety as a Child Refugee – Gulwali Passarlay (author)

Gulwali Passarlay was sent away from Afghanistan at the age of twelve, after his father was killed in a gun battle with the US Army. He made a twelve-month odyssey across Europe, spending time in prisons, suffering hunger, making a terrifying journey across the Mediterranean in a tiny boat, and enduring a desolate month in the camp at Calais. Somehow he survived, and made it to Britain, where he was fostered, sent to school, and won a place at a top university. He was chosen to carry the Olympic torch in 2012. One boy’s experience is the central story of our times. This powerful memoir celebrates the triumph of courage over adversity.

Where can I find these books?

Check out this Time Out article on the best bookshops in London.