My Name Is Why (Hardback)
  • My Name Is Why (Hardback)
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My Name Is Why (Hardback)

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£16.99
Hardback 208 Pages / Published: 29/08/2019
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Waterstones Says

Ripped away from his Ethiopian mother in infancy, Sissay endured over a decade of mistreatment and wilful cruelty in the British care system. This is the powerful and inspiring account of the acclaimed poet’s journey from neglect and despair to artistic and cultural recognition.

'His name is magic, his poems are songs on the street' - Independent

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.

Publisher: Canongate Books Ltd
ISBN: 9781786892348
Number of pages: 208
Weight: 422 g
Dimensions: 220 x 162 x 25 mm
Edition: Main


MEDIA REVIEWS

‘The most amazing thing about this book is that it’s not made up. This actually happened’ - Benjamin Zephaniah

'Sissay has given us a blistering condemnation of the 'care' system- and his powerful voice asking 'why?' on behalf of all children who have been it's victims.' - The Mail

'It is a searing and unforgettable re-creation of the most brutal of beginnings.' - The Guardian

'A quietly devastating memoir' - The Sunday Times

‘Utterly devastating and beautiful’ - Dolly Alderton

‘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

'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 triumph of human survival. Shame on all of us that this happens in our midst' - Helena Kennedy QC

‘A gorgeous and beautifully written triumph of hope, intelligence and resilience over multiple and varied cruelties’ - Cathy Rentzenbrink

‘Lemn Sissay the person shines through it all, his unflinching honesty, his attention to detail, his humour and bravery’ - Kit de Waal

‘The heartbreaking story of one clever little boy’s battle to grow up in care system that just didn’t care. This story will stay with me for a very long time’ - Sally Lindsay

‘I read My Name Is Why in one sitting, crying and crying and smiling and shaking, gobsmacked at how Lemn Sissay was treated and what he went through. I am in awe of him and his strength and kindness, and the true gentleness that shines through him. What a book. Heartbreaking and raw and stark and beautiful’ - Lisa Faulkner

'Utterly extraordinary' - Misha Glenny

'Every line of this astonishing memoir oozes with pain and power, vulnerability and victory, humour and honesty. Lemn Sissay makes us all understand that human beings can triumph over the impossible' - Deborah Frances-White

'Lemn Sissay is a man for whom emotions become embroidered onto the page. The largely loveless formative years that he endured in the care system has produced a man so adept at conveying love and truth through stanzas, that you could be mistaken for thinking he experienced an altogether different childhood' - Nihal Arthanayake

'If the question is 'why'? The answer is 'to love'. 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

'Inspirational... My Name Is Why shows how resilience, determination and courage can be used to drive yourself forward to make a difference' - Floella Benjamin

'Just finished weeping my way through ...Read it!' - Alix Nathan

'Fans of his writing will have been waiting for this memoir. He has an extraordinary story to tell' - The Sunday Times

Praise for Lemn Sissay:

'One of the most original, challenging poets writing in Britain today, and his extraordinary, heart-breaking, courageous life story is the stuff of legend... Full of light and hope... A prodigious talent.' - The Daily Mail

'Hugely enjoyable, inventive, funny and touching' - The Guardian

'Lemn Sissay is a passionate and powerful voice whose performances are humbling and exhilarating' - Kate Tempest

'His gift as a writer - of plays, poetry, documentaries - is for turning life's base metal into gold.' - The Observer

'A literary institution' - The Big Issue

'A lyrical genius' - The Voice

'His name is magic, his poems are songs on the street' - Independent

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“Deeply moving, ultimately hopeful personal history”

Lemn’s memory of how he was rejected by foster parents and housed in a series of worsening children’s homes that failed to offer care, as evidenced by excerpts from his social services files, is both important and... More

Hardback edition
Helpful? Upvote 56

“Excellent - so moving”

I was too poorly to get to The Brewery and I know I will regret that chance to see and hear him.
I’m reading the book whilst following him online.
What a brilliant person and thanks for telling us how and why you have... More

Hardback edition
Helpful? Upvote 43

“Shocking and moving in equal measure”

Shocking and moving in equal measure. Lemn Sissay's story is a compelling read, and at points you have to remind yourself it really happened. His writing is beautiful, and he's inspiration.

Paperback edition
Helpful? Upvote 12

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