Six Stories and an Essay, by Andrea Levy, exceeded my already high expectations of this impressive author. With the lightest of touches she manages to convey so much in so few words. There is nothing bitter in her writing, yet it made me want to cry out at the injustices that continue to rain down on so many.
A fascinating insight is offered into the legacy of empire and the beliefs of those who admired the ‘mother country’ from afar. There is pathos in the expectations and predicaments of the migrants, but also humour in the many attitudes explored. These tales are thought provoking but, more than that, entertaining.
The book opens with an essay that sets the scene for the six stories to come. Each of these is introduced by the author, allowing understanding of context and inspiration. Although prejudice is at the core of each work, the writing is empathetic. It is this which draws the reader into the worlds described, laying bare the foolishness of social and racial divides and the damage that results from their perpetuation.
Despite the serious issues explored this is an easy and beguiling set of tales. The honest and open exploration of the human psyche presents a sometimes uncomfortable realisation of how easy it is to see others as different, and to treat them as less worthy because of this. The inclusion of tales of poverty and changing attitudes across generations makes this more than just a set of tales about perceived racial difference.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It offers history and self deprecating humour, a deftly executed eye opener that neither parries nor preaches. These are, first and foremost, stories to be enjoyed. That each resonates with a message that all would benefit from heeding does not detract in any measure from their value as entertaining reads.
My copy of this book was provided gratis by the publisher, Tinder Press.