A few years ago Birmingham Libraries began looking for talented writers from the Black and Minority Ethnic community in Birmingham to take part in a creative writing project.
Original Skin is a collection of short stories which is an anthology of new writing in Birmingham.
Established writers such as Ava Ming, Rubina Din, Yvonne Brissett, Kavita Bhanot and Zulfiqar Ali were commissioned to write a short story. We offered new writers from Birmingham's diverse communities the opportunity to be mentored by these writers and ultimately get their work published in the anthology.
Searching for a Sunny Day
Is it just to make racist generalisations as a direct consequence of a criminal act? Can individual liberty and personal freedom be sacrificed on the altar of love and commitment? In the traumatic wake of a mugging, cancer patient Pete's faith in himself and everything he believes in is severely shaken. The life he has been living feels like a horrible lie, one he is no longer able to recognise. Over the years, it seems to have grown up around him like the stifling walls of a prison. His long-term relationship with Janice is going nowhere, fast. In the days that follow the mugging, his sense of isolation and alienation increase to the point where he is ready to do just about anything to alter the status quo. The escape route he finally opts for is bound to profoundly and radically alter the course of his subsequent life.
A grandmother is one day thrust upon Jaya. Jaya, ten years old, and possibly depressed, just wants to be left alone to stay at home and watch television. But she is forced to spend every Saturday visiting her new grandmother. Why does her mother drop her at her grandmother's but never come in herself? Why does her grandmother hate her daughter? Why did her parents never get married? These are all questions that Jaya's parents think she is too young to be given the answer to. But with her growing bond with her grandmother, Jaya ends up giving an answer to the question her mother has never been able to resolve.
Three teenagers, Mango, Pimp and Jinx thrive on their reputation as ruthless street hustlers and thugs. They spend reckless day and nights, skipping school, running the streets, stealing, getting high and enjoying a carefree existence at others expense. Talented and hungry, their ambition is to make it as the hottest up and coming hip hop crew in the music industry. They want fame, glamour, girls and money and will stop at nothing to get it. In their cold-blooded pursuit of a celebrity lifestyle where money flows easily and fame is their game, within one 24 hour period, their lives change dramatically, in ways they could have never imagined.
Same But Different
After being sexually attacked as a teenager Raven buries the incident deep within, believing that that's the only way she can cope. Her days are marked by the regular and somehow comforting cycle of four hourly pill popping. When a young woman suffers an attack in almost identical circumstances, Raven's repressed memories spill into the present prompting her to take rash steps. This has ultimately horrifying consequences as her actions backfire and she ends up living her worst nightmare; being committed to a mental hospital for life.
One Single I Love You
A young man refuses to give up on his dreams of true love with a much older woman despite the fact that society sees their relationship as taboo. Trainer teacher Natalie's world sparkles when former pupil Daniel is in it, but she knows that their time together is finite. To assuage her guilt she must accept the truth and risk breaking his heart. Eventually Natalie sets a date to break off their affair but by then it seems that Daniel has already pulled away. One Single I Love You is a tender romance set in contemporary times that examines the boundaries we place on love.
Conversation with an Ant
Old age comes quickly to Henry Theodore Carnegie, a black activist who, after a sudden fall, now lies paralysed on his kitchen floor. As day fades to night, long repressed memories force him to confront the guilt of neglecting his wife and two sons whilst crusading for the betterment of his community. Through the use of vivid flashbacks set around the kitchen table laden with the intoxicating scents of Caribbean cooking, Henry's boys, Luther and Luke, remind their dad of the burdensome family secret they've had to share because of his stubbornness. The unexpected wisdom of a philosophical talking ant, is the catalyst for Henry's reluctant journey of self-awareness and opens the door to his longed-for reconciliation with his sons.
Lychees and Bingo Balls
Su-May's predictable British life is turned upside down when her Chinese grandmother Wai-Po joins the family and settles in England. Initially issues of age and language pose a formidable barrier between the two but when Wai-Po gets depressed and bored after being confined to the flat above the take-away all day long, it's up to Su-May to do something about it. Playing bingo at the local village hall provides a surprising solution. Wai-Po is a hit among the other ladies causing Su-May to now see her as a vibrant, viable person who holds the key to her Chinese heritage.
On the first night of her arranged marriage young Rani desperately searches for a way out of the ritual humiliation shes certain lies ahead. Her mind torments her with images of a lifetime of servitude and forced rape at the hands of her new husband, Sharny. Her father-in-law, 'The Devil' remains complicit in his son's abuse but Rani's spirited resistance means that after the wedding night she is never seen again. Sharny boards the train, excited and anxious about his sudden emigration to the UK. His trip takes an unexpected turn as rumours circulate of a body on the track. Police warn the passengers to stay where they are, no-one will be travelling that day.
Marcus is a young man determined not to let his disadvantaged background dictate his future. He's just applied to university and is on the verge of falling in love with a beautiful young woman, when news of his best friend's death sends him reeling. Determined to find out what happened to Darren, Marcus unwittingly lifts the veil on the realities of pirated CDs which he's been selling to supplement his unemployment benefits. Soon he uncovers stark violence and prostitution. Luckily, just when he's staring death in the face, an unlikely rescuer appears.
If you would like more information about this project, please contact Nikki Bi on 0121 303 2895 or write to:
Birmingham Central Library
Synopses from the Original Skin Anthology
You can also read an introduction the project by Yvonne Brissett and Ava Ming. Please see Attachments below.
Original Skin Synopses
Original Skin - Introduction
Original Skin - Introduction