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Where are you from?’ is a question I always find hard to answer. 1971: an ad in Nursery World. Foster parents required for a three-month-old baby – me. The lucky applicants are a white middle aged woman and her daughter, who love babies, especially black babies.
My mother arrives, a haughty Nigerian woman in a convertible with a moses basket on the seat beside her, setting the net curtains in this all-white council estate twitching. And though the whole place makes my privileged mother’s skin crawl, she returns to London with an empty basket beside her, because, unusually for the area, my foster mother talks proper, and I’ll need a posh white accent for the bright future I have ahead of me.
I’ll cling onto that idea – that I’ve a bright future ahead of me – even though there’s nothing in my upbringing to warrant it.
Precious is the story of growing up black in a white community, of struggling to find an identity that fits amid conflicting messages, of deciphering a childhood full of secrets and dysfunction. Painfully honest, swerving from farce to tragedy, Precious has a spirit that refuses to be crushed.
“Williams’s writing is accomplished – pacey yet carefully spare, so the sadness and anger hover over her narrative rather than suffocate it… a powerful new voice” - Sunday Times
“A beautiful, haunting new Dickensian tale of growing up between two mothers and two motherlands” - Catherine McKinley, author of The Book of Sarahs