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The Good Immigrant

4.33  ·  Rating details ·  7,347 ratings  ·  784 reviews
How does it feel to be constantly regarded as a potential threat, strip-searched at every airport?

Or be told that, as an actress, the part you’re most fitted to play is ‘wife of a terrorist’? How does it feel to have words from your native language misused, misappropriated and used aggressively towards you? How does it feel to hear a child of colour say in a classroom that
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published September 22nd 2016 by Unbound
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Jose Probably yes. However, the Canadian experience does include the sizable issue of First nations' peoples and the fact that most of the country is popul…moreProbably yes. However, the Canadian experience does include the sizable issue of First nations' peoples and the fact that most of the country is populated by immigrants. The "Good Immigrant" includes stories from third generation 'immigrants' which really is the case for most Canadians.

In the case of First Nations, the population would rightly consider immigrants of any color as colonizers. issues like lack TV representation or cultural appropriation (of Haida art for example) pale in comparison to the difficult adaption to a nation state.
The "Good Immigrant" writers often complain about "whites" not understanding their specific origin, confusing Indians with Arabs and so on. In Canada, the same could be said about everyone because whites also come from places as diverse as Brazil or Sweden. In some cases the abundance of Chinese investment has created a neo-colonial problem where China is the oppressive power.
That said, some parts of the book are relatable and even interesting even if they often read as primer of social studies. I liked a couple of the stories where the author talks about their personal experience and not in general terms about why Harry Potter has no black wizards or why it is ok to attack a white kid wearing dreadlocks (It is not).


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Dec 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
A touching and often funny set of stories of immigration in the UK, with many parallels to how we've approached immigration and treated immigrants in the US, both historically and currently. Similarities include how we accept most immigrants who are "gifted" and truly exceptional (think of women doing "twice as much to be thought half as good") and how Asian, African/Black, and other ethnic minorities face remarkable and brutal harassment, especially in our schools, and generally with White perp ...more
Apr 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Bringing together 21 exciting black, Asian and minority ethnic voices emerging in Britain today, The Good Immigrant explores why immigrants come to the UK, why they stay and what it means to be ‘other’ in a country that doesn’t seem to want you, doesn’t truly accept you – however many generations you’ve been here – but still needs you for its diversity monitoring forms.

These beautiful, powerful, unapologetic essays collect twenty-one universal experiences: “feelings of anger, displacement, defen
Simon Clark
Jun 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Short review: absolutely essential reading, a real eye-opening account of living in modern Britain.

Long review:
Some context. I grew up near Bath, in Somerset. This is a part of the UK that, according to recent data, is 94.5% white. In my secondary school there were perhaps ten students out of a year of over two hundred students who were anything other than pasty, northern European white. In other words, growing up I was surrounded by an almost overwhelming hegemony of whiteness. This was barely
Apr 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction

White people debate it. We live it.

MY NAME IS MY NAME - Chimene Suleyman

But tradition is an inescapable trait of our communities - those who cannot rely on land or home for their identity. Our parents, and their parents, and theirs before, have little more to leave us beyond their names, beyond their language. We have inherited the knowledge that community means to remain. When we cannot return to our homes - or are waiting for them to be taken from us again - we must get the hang of h
K.J. Charles
Sep 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
This is one of the most important books I’ve read in a long time, and everyone should read it.

It’s a collection of essays about British immigrant experience, all of them fascinating, informative, funny, angry. The essays are each specific and detailed, with huge variety and breadth in the ways they talk about the subject, but the common threads of how immigrants are treated here come through in a way that makes me, frankly, pretty bloody ashamed. This was shockingly eye opening to me as a white
Jan 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
* This book was sent to me for review by the publisher (AND I AM SO VERY GLAD IT WAS!) *

I LOVED THIS. Literally, this is THE BEST essay collection I've ever read by a million miles. I tabbed over 60 lines and pages within this, not a single essay doesn't have a tab or something that moved me, hit me or infuriated me. This is passion, raw and simple. It billows out onto the pages as these people share their stories and their experiences in an honest, clear, yet VITAL way. These stories struck me
Nov 04, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
For some one who is a person of colour and an immigrant to boot, I felt that the rhetoric here, that of lives and narratives of BAME being marginalised came across slightly shriller than warranted. Much of this can be blamed on the cohort of professionals rounded up to give their versions of the "immigrant experience". Being actors, essayists, published raconteurs, novelists: the heightened sensitivity to lived experience and then the talent to mine this into a performance of sorts-either writte ...more
Apr 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
A really fun and insightful look at what being a 'good immigrant' is like in Britain today. Not the doctors, or dentists. Just a regular bunch of people, who live everyday lives, but with a much higher standard put on them. I laughed and despaired at the similar situations each of these writers experienced. I recognised some of what was said, but leant a lot of new things too. Which is exactly how it should be.

I'd highly recommend this book to anyone. Especially if you're wanting to diversify y
Resh (The Book Satchel)
Feb 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Good Immigrant is a collection of 21 essays by persons belonging to black, Asian and ethnic minority communities of UK.

In his editorial note, Nikesh Shukla quotes Musa Okwona in his essay The Ungrateful country –
“…Society deems us bad immigrants – job stealers, benefit-scroungers, girlfriend-thieves, refugees – until we cross over in their consciousness, through popular culture, winning races, baking good cakes, being conscientious doctors, to become good immigrants.
Nikesh Shukla adds – “And
It's hard to review a book written by so many different people - there are inevitably some I enjoyed more than others, some that were better-written or which touched me more - but as a collection this is a must-read. I thought I knew about immigration in my country but these stories showed me I have no idea what fellow Britons of all skin tones and backgrounds have to go through. It opened my eyes and more people should read this and take that chance to walk in someone else's shoes.

I read it sl
Jul 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Debating between 3 and 4 stars for this book, but in the end the strong essays outweighed the mediocre ones (not to mention the truly great ones). These are all British BAME writers (Black, Asian, minority ethnic) discussing their experiences of being "othered" in the UK. An insightful (and often surprisingly funny) look at race, colorism, religion, fashion, film, airport security, education, and so much more. Like I said, some of the essays are noticeably weaker (and for some reason those ones ...more
Jul 25, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I wanted to like this more than I did, but that doesn't mean that I didn't like it. That being said, my favourite essays were definitely My Name is My Name, Airports and Auditions, and Shade.

(To be honest, I had hoped that this anthology would speak to my own immigrant experiences, but the fact that it didn't doesn't mean that I didn't like it, or that it failed as a book about immigrants or something. There's more than one immigrant experience, and it doesn't follow that if a book is "unrelata
Feb 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, essays
Some of these essays were 5 stars, some 3 and a couple 2 stars, so overall 3.5 stars (rounded down) seems fitting. A very timely collection given what has happened in the UK since the EU referendum last June.
Joséphine (Word Revel)
Initial thoughts: Teetering between 4.5 and 5 stars. This is an excellent book containing a lot of insight into the lives of immigrants originating from many different countries. The reason I'm not entirely bent on 5 stars is that the essayists are by and large working in the media and/or entertainment industry. Nikesh Shukla does admit in his preface that the contributors generally know each other. With a general title referring to the immigrant, I expected a more cohesive narrative representin ...more
Nov 2016: "I've said a few times that I was looking for a British equivalent of the Ta-Nehisi Coates book, and some others were interested in the idea too. This appears to be the closest thing so far, although it's a multi-author essay collection."
[Somehow that bit got 9 likes.]

December 2018: Detailed comments I made about The Good Immigrant (after reading) in a discussion thread about In Our Mad & Furious City (N.B., thread contains major spoilers for the last third of Mad & Furious City):
Apr 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
the world would be a much better place if everyone in the world read this book
Jess Penhallow
An interesting and entertaining essay collection about the experiences of BAME people in the UK. The essays were very personal and the fact that I listened to the audiobook narrated by the authors only enhanced this.

I would, however, have liked to have seen a few more issues tackled. A lot of the essays focused on media representation and whilst that is inevitable with the collection being written by people in that industry, they were starting to become slightly repetitive by the end.

I would a
Alyssa Moses
Dec 05, 2017 rated it it was ok
I didn't like this book but it's probably my own fault. I bought it because I wanted to read interesting stories by high achievers, stories about overcoming odds, or I don't know, interesting anecdotes about their parents and navigating two worlds, one of which doesn't accept you. Unfortunately, I got a lot of repetitive, overbroad, and unsourced essays.

Only 3/21 of the essays provided a new perspective or novel idea:

- (1) Darren Chetty's "You can't say that. Stories have to be about white peo
Bloody freaking brilliant. So good, so sharp, so touching, so funny, just absolutely great.
Oct 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everyone
4.5 stars

This is an important read. A great collection of essays on what it means to be a POC in Britain today and also on immigration and 'being a good an acceptable immigrant so white people aren't afraid of you' etc

my fave essays:
A Guide to Being Black
Is Nish Kumar a Confused Muslim?
Beyond 'Good' Immigrants
'You can't say that! Stories have to be about white people'
Airports and Auditions
What we talk about when we talk about tokenism

some essays are obviously better than others, there are
Tamsien West (Babbling Books)
“The shade of your skin is not the whole content of you and your work. The shade of your skin should not be the measure of your worth.”-Salena Godden

When you occupy a position of privilege the most important thing you must do in many situations is sit down and listen. For me The Good Immigrant was a ‘sit-down-and-listen’ book. It is a collection of 25 essays by black, Asian and ethnic minority communities in Britain – referred to there as ‘BAME’. The topics are varied but all address identity an
Sep 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Bringing together 21 exciting black, Asian and minority ethnic voices emerging in Britain today, The Good Immigrant explores why immigrants come to the UK, why they stay and what it means to be ‘other’ in a country that doesn’t seem to want you, doesn’t truly accept you – however many generations you’ve been here – but still needs you for its diversity monitoring forms.

The Good Immigrant is the most important book you will read this year. It's as simple as that. 21 essays collected together tell
Viv JM
The Good Immigrant is a really excellent collection of essays written by a variety of Black, Asian and minority ethnic writers about the immigrant experience in Britain today. The essays are by turns eye-opening, poignant, funny and occasionally depressing, but all were well written and highly readable.

I read this for the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge task to read an essay anthology, and would highly recommend it.
Mar 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Wow this ended up being super devastating. Musa Okwonga's The Ungrateful Country at the back of the book was such a massive, heartbroken indictment of where Britain is at.
A couple of the essays lacked a bit of coherency but I can't imagine this is an easy thing to write about in only a couple of pages.
Iqra Choudhry
Nov 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful, funny, heart-breaking in places and utterly essential to anyone who wants to know what life is like for minorities in Britain.
Aug 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Living outside my country for the last 9 years (hard to believe it's been that long), I had never felt like an immigrant. And then Brexit came, and the feeling changed. As a white European, I haven't had many real "incidents" (other than an unpleasant receptionist at the hospital or a post-Brexit drunk man yelling "foreigner go home") but openly displayed racism is definitely on the rise.

This is an essential book. A book for any time, but especially important now. A book to realise the importan
One of the most compelling arguments the literary critic Homi Bhabha makes is that colonialism is marked by the ‘thingification’ of the colonised. This has always struck me as a step beyond objectification where not only are the colonised denied any sense of subjectivity, they are not even granted the status of discernible colonial objects, they are merely things, stuff to be managed, ruled, controlled and with all of that defined as indeterminate and indistinguishable. This same non-existence s ...more
Oct 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Essentially reading. The collection of essays here range widely in topic, tone and voice. Some essays moved me to tears (Vinay Patel), others laughter (Bim Adewunmi, Riz Ahmed), others explored areas of immigration and systemic racism I had never thought about before: such as the role of British racism on casteism (Sarah Shaim) or using fashion as a way to explore immigrant identity (Sabrina Mahfouz). Common themes soon emerge: on home, identity, the need for better representation across media, ...more
Lizzie Huxley-Jones
Jan 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Honestly, there's little to say about The Good Immigrant that hasn't already been said. A fascinating collection of essays touching acting while a person of colour, diaspora, being British, the need to be better than anyone else because of prejudice. I spent a long time with each essay, reflecting afterwards and taking my time to move forward through the collection. Each author is an exceptional talent, and I plan to fill my reading list with their other works this year.

Share it, talk to people
Marie Andrews
Sep 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Full review also posted on my blog:

"To be an immigrant, good or bad, is about straddling two homes, whilst knowing you don't really belong to either"

I've been meaning to read The Good Immigrant ever since it was released last year, especially after seeing the fantastic reviews which highlight how important this book is. When I requested it from my local library, I was 5th on the list (and usually you don't have to wait at all!) and I think this only reite
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Play Book Tag: The Good Immigrant - 4 stars 1 15 Oct 31, 2018 03:24PM  

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“To be an immigrant, good or bad, is about straddling two homes, whilst knowing you don't really belong to either.” 20 likes
“Musa Okwonga, the poet, journalist and essayist whose powerful ‘The Ungrateful Country’ closes the book, once said to me that the biggest burden facing people of colour in this country is that society deems us bad immigrants – job-stealers, benefit-scroungers, girlfriend-thieves, refugees – until we cross over in their consciousness, through popular culture, winning races, baking good cakes, being conscientious doctors, to become good immigrants. And we are so tired of that burden." (from "The Good Immigrant" by Nikesh Shukla)” 9 likes
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