My book is a call to strengthen the bonds that unite us
|Photo by Deborah Jaffe|
Published by Austin Macauley, supported by an Arts Council England grant and with photographs by the excellent Deborah Jaffe, my first book, “Cuban, Immigrant, and Londoner” hits the shelves this week.
Somewhere towards the end of my book, I write “This is what writing from an EAL immigrant’s perspective represents. Shards of glass that amount to nothing more and nothing else than the imperfect creation of a glimpse into the life we’ve lived, the one we have yet to live and the experience that has accompanied this process.” The “shards of glass” are a reference to an image produced by the photographer Gillian Allard in 2017 for one of her challenges on the Sky Arts show “Master of Photography” (Gillian went on to win the competition).
Shards tend to be seen mainly as broken pieces of glass and therefore they have a negative connotation. For instance, you can get cut if you walk on them barefoot. For me, though, shards and the distorted image they return, represent the various ways in which our lives as immigrants play out.
That’s why I decided to split “Cuban, Immigrant, and Londoner” into five different chapters. They each deal with five different identity markers. Cuban, Immigrant, and Londoner was the trigger to write the book from a self-proclaimed Londoner’s perspective. A Cuban in London and London in a Cuban is a collection of 250-/300-word light-hearted vignettes depicting those little moments that enrich an immigrant’s life. As the Land is the Language is a reflection on our relationship with the English language as immigrants. From Here and There is a compilation of the articles I’ve published in newspapers and magazines in the last fifteen years. The closing chapter, An EAL Immigrant Writes, seeks to explore the ways in which we, non-native speakers, express our ideas and thoughts in our adopted country’s language, in this case, English.
The main aim of the book “Cuban, Immigrant, and Londoner” is to serve as a platform for fellow immigrants to share our experiences. Furthermore, through the book I would like to start a much-needed conversation with the wider public in the UK on the contributions made by immigrants to this country.
The ideas behind this book have long been in gestation. Some come from my professional life. An example of this was a First Light-funded, EAL children-supporting project I managed at two primary schools in 2009. Another film-related project I managed years later, in 2014, sought to delve into issues related to identity and belonging.
Above all “Cuban, Immigrant, and Londoner” is part memoir, part autobiography and part reflection on an Afro-Latin Caribbean immigrant’s life in London for more than 20 years. It’s a journey that’s barely begun. Welcome aboard and enjoy the ride.