The latest anthology from Stripes, A Change Is Gonna Come, is a wonderfully eclectic mix of short stories, perfectly opened and closed with poetry from Musa Okwonga ‘The Elders on the Wall’ and Inua Ellams ‘Of Lizard Skin and Dust Storms’.
Commissioned in response to a lack of diverse voices in UK publishing, A Change Is Gonna Come shines a much deserved spotlight on Black, Asian and minority ethnic YA writers. New and established voices feature within the pages as a result of a ‘call out’ from the publishers for writers. A real treat.
With all writers tasked with writing under the theme of ‘change’ – the result is a welcome myriad of topics and styles.
The opening story from Aisha Bushby, ‘Marionette Girl’ featuring Amani who suffers from OCD, will certainly pull on your heart strings.
Catherine Johnson’s absorbing ‘Astounding Talent! Unequalled Performances!’ travels back in time to an era of showpeople and performers.
The voice in ‘Hackney Moon’ by Tanya Byrne is immediately engaging as Esther fumbles around for confidence, a sense of belonging and romance… but has she found the right girl? Byrne’s command of the narrative will have you hanging on to every single word as you too stumble towards the ending… how will it end for Esther?!
In ‘We Who?’ by Nikesh Shukia the narrator is confronted with the changing nature of a previously close friendship in a post Brexit world. Powerfully written.
The haunting futuristic content of Patrice Lawrence’s ‘The Clean Sweep’ means that this story that will linger in the mind – long after you’ve reached the end. The ‘Suggested Further Reading’ section adds extra shivers!
‘Iridescent Adolescent’ by Phoebe Roy gives a whole new meaning to the notion of going through changes as a teenager! Very intriguing.
Mary Bello’s beautifully composed ‘Dear Asha’ deals with the aftermath of the death of Asha’s much loved mother. Asha’s visit to her mother’s homeland of Nigeria for the funeral is bittersweet. It is the place they wanted to visit together. Enveloped in a warm, comforting embrace of family and friends she has never met before, Asha is taken care of. Evocative descriptions of the vibrant chaos of Lagos, highlight the calm beauty and serenity of the more rural Ondo.
In ‘A Refuge’ by Aysiha Malik, Sabrina is dragged along on by her parents on a volunteer mission at a refugee camp in Calais. The connection she makes with Homa has a lasting impact on her.
‘The Unwritten Future of Moses Mohammad Shabazz Banneker King’ by Irfan Master is an engulfing story in which the past and future collide. Told from the point of view of blind Moses who receives messages from the future – the world is in chaos, they need Moses to save them.
The final short story, ‘Fortune Favours the Bold’ by Yasmin Rahman, begins with the ominous, and oh-so-close to reality sub-heading, ‘Terrorist Attack In Nightclub’ – a website headline clicked on by our protagonist whispering ‘Please don’t be another Muslim. Please. Please. Please. Not again.’ In a short space of time we witness Zaibah find her inner strength and confidence – brilliantly written.
Stripes Publishing have done it again with this anthology. A Change Is Gonna Come is an accomplished anthology with plenty to offer, to inspire and to think about. Highly recommended.
“Change is not inevitable or impossible; it requires imagination to picture how things might be, as well as courage and tenacity to work to make the imagined a reality.” Darren Chetty