Dispatches from the Diaspora

Gary Younge
Faber and Faber

“Things look bleak. The propensity to despair is strong but should not be indulged. Sing yourself up.  Imagine a world in which you might thrive, for which there is no evidence. And then fight for it.”  Legendary journalist Gary Younge has pulled together some of his best work of the last 30 years, with a particular focus on experiences of the Black diaspora. Quoted above is his signoff from the Guardian, which illustrates his ability to go beyond frontline reportage and to imagine a different future.

Younge reports from all over the world.  He was in South Africa during the transition from apartheid.  He reported from the US for years, and also from the UK. His meticulous analysis of important cultural moments is well represented in this collection, for example in his piece about Martin Luther King, “The Misremembering of ‘I Have a Dream’.”

Dispatches from the Diaspora includes meetings with Maya Angelou, Desmond Tutu, Angela Davis… as well as many regular people. I loved Younge’s description of meeting Dr Angelou: “I got drunk with Maya Angelou in her limousine on the way back from a performance. (‘Do you want ice and stuff [with your whisky]?’ her assistant asked her.  ‘I want some ice, but mostly I want stuff,’ came Angelou’s reply.)”

A book to entertain you, to educate you, to challenge you, and to make you act. It is an instant classic of reflective reportage, stuffed with memorable encounters.

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