To be published in 2019
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Jonathan Cape has acquired ENGLAND FEVER by Colin Grant, an oral history of the generation of Caribbean immigrants who came to Britain after the war.
Through first-hand interviews and testimonies, ENGLAND FEVER will explore how West Indians succumbed to the fever to leave their islands between 1948 and 1962, and how they navigated this bewildering new cultural landscape when they arrived. Far beyond the early Windrush pioneers, this was a period of unprecedented migration. How did the new arrivals weave themselves into the fabric of British society, while retaining – and in some ways creating – a distinct culture of their own? The oral testimonies also reveal the darker side of the times as attitudes dramatically changed and the so-called ‘immigrant problem’ became recast as a ‘colour problem’, culminating in race riots and changes to the immigration laws. With many of the surviving West Indian pioneers now in their 70s and 80s, it is essential that their accounts, marking this hugely important and fascinating moment in British history, are recorded and savoured.
Colin Grant says:
‘ENGLAND FEVER is a chance to capture the accounts of ordinary Caribbean people, the epitome of cool, the unknown giants of my childhood who dressed to a point beyond distinction and folded you into the warmth of their lives – from the front room preachers, the unofficial (pardner) bankers, and the Guinness-loving gamblers, through to the Carnival Queens and the first importers of yam, ackee 'n' saltfish – all who brought a little bit of Caribbean spice to British life. The under-examined stories of the descendants of these first migrants and the pioneers themselves, now much closer to the end of their adventures than the beginning, are ones I was always bound and born to tell.