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Wednesday, 17 July 2019

#Others @cfernyhough @unbounders

Others: Writers on the power of words to help us see beyond ourselves by Charles Fernyhough (Author, Editor)

It doesn’t take much familiarity with the news to see that the world has become a more hate-filled place. In Others, a group of writers explore the power of words to help us to see the world as others see it, and to reveal some of the strangeness of our own selves.

Through stories, poems, memoirs and essays, we look at otherness in a variety of its forms, from the dividing lines of politics and the anonymising forces of city life, through the disputed identities of disability, gender and neurodiversity, to the catastrophic imbalances of power that stands in the way of social equality.

Whether the theme is a casual act of racism or an everyday interaction with someone whose experience seems impossible to imagine, the collection challenges us to recognise our own otherness to those we would set apart as different.

Profits from this book will be donated to Stop Hate UK, which works to raise awareness of hate crime and encourage its reporting, and Refugee Action, which provides advice and support to refugees and asylum seekers in the UK. 

Contributors include: Leila Aboulela, Gillian Allnutt, Damian Barr, Noam Chomsky, Rishi Dastidar, Peter Ho Davies, Louise Doughty, Salena Godden, Colin Grant, Sam Guglani, Matt Haig, Aamer Hussein, Anjali Joseph, A. L. Kennedy, Joanne Limburg, Rachel Mann, Tiffany Murray, Sara Nović, Edward Platt, Alex Preston, Tom Shakespeare, Kamila Shamsie, Will Storr, Preti Taneja and Marina Warner.

My review of Others 

Others is an insightful, inspiring and thought provoking collection of short stories, poems and real life accounts. The central theme is that of 'other'.  Those we perceive to be different to us and how this difference can shed insight on our own prejudices and truths. We read about the 'other' who doesn't conform to our rules, our culture, and as a result we learn  how we perceive ourselves to be different. We also learn how reading can shed insight into other, as we immerse ourselves in their point of view. 

This is a book that is very much time sensitive. In our current refugee crisis and the rise of the far right, this book makes you question what it actually means to be other, while making us delve deep into our own belief systems and prejudices. 

All of these stories have something important to say. They each have their own distinctive voice. But, one story in particular stood out for personal reasons  ‘We Are the Champions’ by Salena Godden  explores the relationship with the author's sister who has Williams Syndrome. I found this to be emotional, empowering and a wonderful and honest insight into how others perceive disability. It's beautifully written. 

Others showcases the power of words and stories in uniting  us all. Fundamentally, what we learn is that we aren't that different after all, and that difference should be celebrated, not something to be feared. 

With thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the Advanced Reader Copy.

The Others: Writers on the power of words to help us see beyond ourselves was published on 11th July by Unbound. 

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