'Against anything I had ever been told was possible, I was turning white. On the surface of my skin, a miracle was quietly brewing....'
Suburban Australia. Sweltering heat. Three-bedroom blonde brick. Family of five. Beat-up Ford Falcon. Vegemite on toast. Maxine Beneba Clarke's life is just like all the other Aussie kids' on her street. Except for this one glaring, inescapably obvious thing.
From one of Australia's most exciting writers and the author of the multiaward-winning Foreign Soil comes The Hate Race: a powerful, funny, and at times devastating memoir about growing up black in white middle-class Australia.
©2016 Maxine Beneba Clarke (P)2016 Hachette Australia Pty Ltd
"Maxine Beneba Clarke is a powerful and fearless storyteller." (Dave Eggers, international best-selling author of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius)
"Technically, this book is near-perfect." (Books + Publishing - five stars)
"Maxine Beneba Clarke's storytelling in The Hate Race has a heft to it that is at once steeped in history, and also exquisitely and playfully modern; it is lyrical, sincere and ironic, but above all, it is fierce. What starts out as a nostalgic childhood memoir soon turns into a revealing account of racism in Australia. The Hate Race explores the sun-drenched, suburban, middle-class childhood of Clarke and her siblings, born in Australia to parents of Jamaican and Guyanese descent who emigrated from England in the 1970s. It moves from West Indian folkloric flourishes into familiar childhood episodes, only to deliver, again and again, that appalling gut punch: that being black in Australia is to be the subject of racism. Technically, this book is near-perfect. At the beginning and end of chapters, and at select moments throughout the narrative, Clarke emphasises the storytelling with exquisite stylistic repetitions: 'this is how it sang', 'this is how it stalks us', 'this is how it happened, or else what's a story for'. Never before have I read narrative repetition executed with such precision, poetry and power. The Hate Race will appeal to anyone with an interest in Australian history, culture and identity today." (Amy Vuleta, Books + Publishing)
"It's unputdownable." (Jane Hutcheon, host of One Plus One)
This is heart-wrenching. Worth the time for anyone hoping to understand what it is like to be an Australian from a non-white background.
What Maxine had to go through as the only black kid (besides her sister and brother) in an all white neighborhood is truly shocking. Blatant, mean, nasty racism comes to light. As she is telling the story from her point of view it is sometimes a bit much complaining. But you cannot blame her for that.
"A must listen for Australians"
This is a beautifully crafted, moving, honest, heart wrenching book. People who've experienced racism would surely be moved and validated by Clarke's complex, funny, sad and sensitive tale of her own childhood. People who deny racism's impact in Australia will gain immensely by reading this story as it reveals how pervasive it is and how deeply impactful upon identity it can be. I will never forget this book.
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