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The Black Flamingo

Written by Dean Atta

Illustrated by Anshika Khullar

Key Stage 4 Family / Home Stories Poetry Romance / Relationship Stories

LoveReading View on The Black Flamingo

Fabulously authentic free-form fiction about navigating intersectional identities and finding your wings to fly free.

Shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2020 | August 2019 Debut of the Month

Uplifting and dazzlingly unique, this coming-of-age treasure explores identity and sexuality with an emboldening message to remember that “you have the right to be you”.

As a young Barbie-loving boy, mixed race Michael wonders if he’s “only half” of everything, to which his mother poignantly replies: “Don’t let anyone tell you/that you are half-black/and half-white. Half-Cypriot/ and half-Jamaican./ You are a full human being.” But he doesn’t feel like a whole human being. Dubbed a “queerdo and weirdo” by bullies and subjected to “batty bwoy” taunts through his teenage years, he leaves London for Brighton University with hope in his heart. But even here Michael feels “like Goldilocks; trying to find a group of people/the perfect fit for me”. He doesn’t feel black enough for the Caribbean Society, or Greek enough for Hellenic Society, or queer enough for the LBGT Society. Then Michael finally finds a fit at Drag Society where he becomes The Black Flamingo, “someone fabulous, wild and strong. With or without a costume on.”

Michael’s journey is complex, moving and told with a raw vitality that makes the soul soar and the heart sing, with Anshika Khullar’s magnificent illustrations and the smart design adding further depth, prompting the reader to pause for thought as his story requires.

Joanne Owen

The Black Flamingo Synopsis

“So who is The Black Flamingo?” asks Katy with genuine curiosity.
I reply,

“He is me, who I have been, who I am, who I hope to become. Someone fabulous, wild and strong. With or without a costume on”

The Black Flamingo follows Michael as he comes to terms with his identity as a mixed-race gay teen and finds his wings at university as a drag artist. An exploration of a mixed-race LGBTQ+ experience in Britain, The Black Flamingo is a bold story about the power of embracing your uniqueness and finding your inner strength.

Sometimes, we need to take charge, to stand up wearing pink feathers - to show ourselves to the world in bold colour.

The Black Flamingo Press Reviews

'I masquerade in makeup and feathers and I am applauded.' A bold and joyous hymn to self-discovery and acceptance - The Bookseller

The Black Flamingo is the book I wish I had when I was younger ... joyful, emotional and full of depth. The Black Flamingo becomes an emblem of so much, and I am so excited to read this again -- Travis Alabanza - performance artist and poet

Dean Atta's tender coming of age novel casts a fresh and enriching perspective on what it means to be seen as different at the level of race, culture, identity, heritage and gender ... an important book for young people -- Malika Booker - Poet

Book Information

ISBN: 9781444948585
Publication date: 8th August 2019
Author: Dean Atta
Illustrator: Anshika Khullar
Publisher: Hodder Children's Books an imprint of Hachette Children's Group
Format: Hardback
Pagination: 176 pages
Year Groups: Key Stage 4
Topics: Family / Home Stories, Family Issues, Poetry, Racism / Multi-Culturalism, Romance / Relationship Stories, Sexuality / Relationships

About Dean Atta

Dean Atta's debut poetry collection, I Am Nobody's Nigger, was shortlisted for the Polari First Book Prize. His poems deal with themes of race, gender, identity and growing up, and have appeared on BBC One's The One Show and several times on BBC Radio 4, BBC World Service and Channel 4. Dean was named as one of the most influential LGBT people in the UK by the Independent on Sunday. He regularly performs across the UK and internationally. Photo credit Thomas Sammut.

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