Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire  (Paperback)
  • Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire  (Paperback)

Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire (Paperback)

Paperback 352 Pages
Published: 21/03/2019
  • 10+ in stock

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Waterstones Says

Covering everything from the police, education and identity to politics, sexual objectification and the far right, Natives speaks directly to British denial and squeamishness when it comes to confronting issues of race and class that are at the heart of the legacy of Britain's racialised empire.

A searing modern polemic and Sunday Times bestseller from the BAFTA and MOBO award-winning musician and political commentator, Akala.

From the first time he was stopped and searched as a child, to the day he realised his mum was white, to his first encounters with racist teachers - race and class have shaped Akala's life and outlook. In this unique book he takes his own experiences and widens them out to look at the social, historical and political factors that have left us where we are today.

Covering everything from the police, education and identity to politics, sexual objectification and the far right, Natives will speak directly to British denial and squeamishness when it comes to confronting issues of race and class that are at the heart of the legacy of Britain's racialised empire.

Publisher: John Murray Press
ISBN: 9781473661233
Number of pages: 352
Weight: 249 g
Dimensions: 196 x 128 x 24 mm


My book of the year. It's personal, historical, political, and it speaks to where we are now. This is the book I've been waiting for - for years - Benjamin Zephaniah

I recommend Natives to everyone - Candice Carty-Williams, author of QUEENIE

Part biography, part polemic, this powerful, wide-ranging study picks apart the British myth of meritocracy - David Olusoga, Guardian

Akala is at his best destroying the comfortable myths that are invoked by white fragility to downplay attempts to correct the historical record ... Akala makes it clear that he is not brimming with optimism. But reading Natives - witnessing the kind of disruptive, aggressive intellect that a new generation is closely watching - I can't help but be just that - Afua Hirsch, Observer

What I love about this book is it's kind of like a testimony, a story of contemporary London. He is like one of the Baldwins or Hooks of our generation, who walks among us, you know? When he theorises, it's from a place of knowing rather than some distant place up above . . . He is very good at remembering and honouring the experiences that have shaped him, and he applies it in a very real way - Madani Younis, Guardian

He is acute on how ideas of race served British global power over centuries, and on the violence at the heart of the imperial project - Guardian

Bracing, illuminating and often discomfiting, an urgent (for many, necessary) polemic - as its near 100% review rating attests - Sunday Times

In his lucid, wide-ranging Natives the rapper Akala shows how race, class and the legacies of empire shape life in Britain today . . . Akala's study interweaves sociological analysis with memoir. Half-Scottish and half-Jamaican by heritage, he challenges cultural assumptions and highlights their consequences, is trenchant about structures of disadvantage, and is discouraging, in the end, about the future - TLS

A potent combination of autobiography and political history which holds up a mirror to contemporary Britain - Independent

One of the most thoughtful books of the past year - Evening Standard

A history lesson of the kind you should get in school but don't ... This is a searing, thought-provoking book - Stylist

Walking us through his childhood experiences, from racist teachers to being stopped and searched by the police, Akala eloquently explains how Britain is in denial about its own history and the legacy of its empire. This phenomenal book guides us through police brutality, the education system and the rise of the far-right in a country that refuses to accept its own reality - Diyora Shadijanova, The Independent

Akala argues with gripping clarity . . . He's trenchant and highly persuasive - Metro

He is an extremely articulate and intelligent human being, with a great command of the English language . . . I don't think he has any formal degrees but his knowledge is knowledge that he has gone out and sought, he has gone across the country and he lectures and speaks at the top universities. What I like about him is that he is eloquent and knowledgeable about a lot of the issues I am interested in - so racism, colonialism, neo-colonialism, class structure in society, imperialism, post-imperialism and all those kind of things that he is so sharp on. His most recent book, Natives, takes in a lot of those issues and he uses his life as an example of how these different -isms interact. - Maro Itoje, THE SUNDAY TIMES

Akala's singular voice speaks to us with deep wisdom about the past, righteous anger about the present, and stubborn hope about the future. He is a radical for our times.

A book bristling with intelligence and insight - Irish Times

An urgent, profound and accessible book. Akala weaves the elements of this wide-ranging book into an engaging, angry, and often funny account that should be pressed into everyone's hands: a personal story, compellingly told, and a devastating analysis of race and class prejudice in our society. Akala is an incredible writer, and this is an important book.

Natives is ideal for anyone who is unaware of how institutions like the police and education consistently fail young black people, particularly from working class backgrounds - Evening Standard

In personalised chapters covering the police, education and identity, politics, sexual objectification and the far right, he confronts the issues of race and class at the heart of the legacy of Britain's racialised empire in this fierce and articulate polemic. - The Bookseller

There are lucid, well-cited and sharply argued passages ... which should probably be extracts on the national curriculum - Vice

An essential voice in Britain's debate on race, class and identity - New Humanist

Fantastic - Novaramedia

Blistering - Lacuna

In many ways, Natives is as thorough a dissection of British racial relations as any you're likely to find . . . But it's also a vivid memoir on his own experiences of racism - The Skinny

Akala makes us quietly aware of how much we have left to learn about the world . . . He doesn't shy away from uncomfortable truths backed up with hard facts, which make you sit up and pay attention - Oxford Times

An eminently readable account of what it means to be mixed race in Britain today, and the long-lasting legacies of colonialism. If that all sounds a little heavy for summer, Akala's sardonically droll writing leavens the subject without diminishing its impact - OX Magazine

a book that fulfils the mantra of 'the personal is political' to illuminate both the challenges of, and oppositions to, racism . . . a series of essays, some personal, others political, yet one never divorced from the other - Philosophy Football

A fiercely honest appraisal of growing up poor and mixed race in broken Britain. This heartfelt polemic fights every excuse of racial ignorance - DJ Mag

An engaged and nuanced exploration of the complex interplay between race and class - Morning Star

Vital - Blouin Art Info

Even the guy behind the uni coffee shop counter can't help tiptoeing over to say how much he loves Akala's "outlook on life", now immortalised in print as Natives - Q Magazine

Powerful ... impressive in its historical sweep, mapping the construction of racial identity onto the growth of empire and capitalism [and] full of nuanced cultural critique - The List

A thoughtful history of racism and British views of empire . . . relevant and useful. - Stuff NZ

Akala approaches issues of race and culture with a rare clarity - Otago Daily Times

Breaks down centuries of colonisation, classism, racism and almost every aspect of British society in a disarmingly accessible way. His language is clear and concise, and like the best writers, he challenges assumptions while building comprehension. - The Spinoff

An astounding and brilliant book about black identity - Herald

Engages with students on their level and should be an essential part of rebalanced's important that there is a text out there that promises light at the end of the tunnel. - The Guardian

Akala draws back the curtain on parts of the empire that it would rather not see, with insights that throw our current position into sharp relief. Illuminating. - The Observer

Number 5/92 of the best books to read right now. Natives is a book everyone needs to read... It is both personal and political and absolutely necessary reading. - GQ Magazine

A recent book I've loved. He has an ability to understand, convey and articulate big ideas and be respected. He's really making a difference. - The Observer

Shelfie with Akala


Rapper, poet, political activist and now author, Akala, popped into his local Waterstones in Notting Hill to share some of his favourite books. As you might hope for from a man with such a wide-ranging cultural life his selections took in everything from psychiatric analysis to Nobel Prize-winning fiction by way of a science fiction classic. Enjoy.

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“A nuanced take on race ”

After the work of Reni Eddo-Lodge and Afua Hirsch it is great to read rapper, poet and activist Akala's take on issues of race in contemporary Britain, particularly given the way black masculinity is so... More

Hardback edition
3 similar books recommended
Helpful? Upvote 131

“Everyone Should Read This Book”

Nothing I write here will convey how fantastic Natives is. This book is extremely relevant, well researched, compelling and heartbreaking. This is the history that should be taught in schools and Akala's voice is... More

Hardback edition
2 similar books recommended
Helpful? Upvote 118
Emma Prince at Portsmouth

“Eye opening!”

Akala’s measured, in depth exploration of race and class in England is an urgent piece of writing that forces the reader to engage with a litany of institutionalised behaviours that have perpetuated unjust, misleading... More

Hardback edition
2 similar books recommended
Helpful? Upvote 105

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