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This novel is based on the author's own childhood, growing up in the '60s as part of the only coloured family living in a Wolverhampton mining village. As in her films, it is filled with warmth, good humour and eccentric characters
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Book Level: 7.3
Interest Level: UY
Quiz Number: 213196
The debut novel from the award-winning screenwriter of Bhaji on the Beach. The story of nine-year-old Meena, growing up in the only Punjabi family in the Black Country mining village of Tollington.
It's 1972. Meena is nine years old and lives in the village of Tollington, 'the jewel of the Black Country'. She is the daughter of Indian parents who have come to England to give her a better life. As one of the few Punjabi inhabitants of her village, her daily struggle for independence is different from most. She wants fishfingers and chips, not chapati and dhal; she wants an English Christmas, not the usual interminable Punjabi festivities - but more than anything, she wants to roam the backyards of working-class Tollington with feisty Anita Rutter and her gang.
Blonde, cool, aloof, outrageous and sassy, Anita is everything Meena thinks she wants to be. Meena wheedles her way into Anita's life, but the arrival of a baby brother, teenage hormones, impending entrance exams for the posh grammar school and a motorcycling rebel without a future, threaten to turn Anita's salad days sour.
Anita and Me paints a comic, poignant, compassionate and colourful portrait of village life in the era of flares, power cuts, glam rock, decimalisation and Ted Heath. It is a unique vision of a British childhood in the Seventies, a childhood caught between two cultures, each on the brink of change.
Like every nine-year-old girl, Meena can't wait to grow up and break free from her parents, but as the daughter of the only Punjabi family in the mining village of Tollington, her daily struggle for independence is different from most. She wants fishfingers and chips, not just chapati and dhal; she wants an English Christmas, not the usual interminable Punjabi festivities - but more than anything, more than mini-skirts and the freedom to watch 'Opportunity Knocks', Meena wants to roam the backyards of working-class Tollington with feisty Anita Rutter and her gang.
Written with great warmth and fun and just a hint of wistfulness, 'Anita and Me' is a unique vision of a British childhood in the Sixties, a childhood caught between two cultures, each on the brink of change.
"A marvellous crash course in Asian/Brummie culture. Funny, moving and packed full of wonderful surprises."ESTHER FREUD, author of 'Hideous Kinky'
"God knows there have been enough memoirs of growing up in the Sixties, but Syal's account has a welcome freshness of perspective. She smartly catches the strangeness and violence of childhood, and skilfully evokes an almost vanished kind of rural working-class life. A promising debut."GQ
"The crucial ingredient is Meena's relationship with Anita Rutter, local lewd flower, skinny of hip, vicious of nature and owner of a dog called Nigger. Best-friend-best-enemy stories have been done before, but this is a beautifully specific portrait."CHARLOTTE O'SULLIVAN, 'Observer'