I Belong Here: A Journey Along the Backbone of Britain: WINNER OF THE 2021 BOOKS ARE MY BAG READERS AWARD FOR NON-FICTION (Hardcover)

I Belong Here: A Journey Along the Backbone of Britain: WINNER OF THE 2021 BOOKS ARE MY BAG READERS AWARD FOR NON-FICTION By Anita Sethi Cover Image
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One woman's journey of reclamation through natural landscapes as she contemplates identity and womanhood, nature, place and belonging.

Anita Sethi was on a journey through Northern England in Summer 2019 when she became the victim of a racially motivated hate crime. The crime was a vicious attack on her right to exist in a place on account of her race. After the event Anita experienced panic attacks and anxiety. A crushing sense of claustrophobia made her long for wide open spaces, to breathe deeply in the great outdoors. She was intent on not letting her experience stop her from traveling freely and without fear.

Between the route from Liverpool to Newcastle lays the Pennines, known as "the backbone of Britain." That "backbone" runs through the north and also strongly connects north with south, east with west--it's a place of borderlands and limestone, of rivers and "scars," of fells and forces. The Pennines called to Anita with a magnetic force; although a racist had told her to leave, she felt drawn to further explore the area she regards as her home, to immerse herself deeply in place. Anita's journey through the natural landscapes of the North is one of reclamation, a way of saying that this is her land too and she belongs in the UK as a brown woman, as much as a white man does.

We're living in an era of increased hostility in which more people of color around the world are being told to "go back"; strong statements of belonging are needed more than ever. Anita's journey gives her the perspective to reflect upon the important issues encompassed in her experience of abuse including speaking out, gaslighting, trauma, kindness, and notions of strength. Her journey transforms what began as an ugly experience of hate into one offering hope and finding beauty after brutality.

Anita transforms her personal experience into one of universal resonance, offering a call to action, to keep walking onwards, forging a path through and beyond pain. Every footstep taken is an act of persistence. Every word written against the rising tide of hate speech, such as this book, is an act of resistance.

About the Author

Anita Sethi was born in Manchester, UK where her love of nature first flourished in childhood, in wild urban spaces. I Belong Here is the first in her nature writing trilogy. She has contributed to anthologies including Seasons, Common People, and Women on Nature, has written for the Guardian, Observer, i, Sunday Times, Telegraph, Vogue, BBC Wildlife, New Statesman and Times Literary Supplement, and appeared on various BBC Radio programmes. She has been shortlisted for Northern Writer of the Year at the Northern Soul Awards and Journalist of the Year at the Asian Media Awards, and has judged the British Book Awards and Society of Author Awards. She has lived around the world including being an International Writer in Residence in Melbourne. Her career highlights include going birdwatching with Margaret Atwood in the UK's oldest nature reserve.

Praise For…

“For anyone who has ever felt out of place, I Belong Here is a moving and comforting read. For everyone else, it is an education. Punchier and more political than most nature writing, this book is a thing of beauty.” - Sunday Times

“Nature’s beauty and wilderness provide a welcome escape from Sethi’s city life and kickstart a healing process as she becomes enveloped in the great outdoors, taking us on an emotional journey at the same time. It’s an amazing odyssey: inspiring, powerful, encouraging and incredibly brave.” - Independent

“Forever asked where she’s from originally, Sethi writes that she has always felt like an ‘outsider’. Instead, this passionate and reflective book stakes her claim to the English countryside and nature writing itself.” - New Statesman

“A heartfelt examination of identity and place ... it is the way Sethi's connection to nature is refracted through her experience as a woman of colour that gives the book its rare power.” - Guardian

“Restored and enlivened by the wonders of nature, Anita Sethi finds the courage to embrace her vulnerabilities and strengths and to claim her place in the world. A brave and life-affirming book.” - Sunday Express

“An unforgettable journey … the genius of the author is how she takes the narrative of hatred and discrimination hurled at her and turns it upside down by ‘going back to where she is from’ – the landscapes of the north. Not only deeply moving but also quietly transformative.” - The Observer

“Excellent...A powerful memoir about nature and belonging and racism and Britishness, as Anita Sethi undertakes a journey to reclaim her space in Britain following a terrifying hate crime on public transport. A brilliant writer.” - Nikesh Shukla, author of 'Brown Baby'

“Anita Sethi invites her reader to walk, not just at her side, but in her shoes, and to feel for themselves both the exhilaration and the chagrin of travelling the backbone of her home country as a woman of colour. By turns joyous and humbling, I Belong Here is an urgent and necessary addition to the canon of contemporary writing about place in the island of Britain.” - Katharine Norbury, editor of 'Women on Nature' and author of 'The Fish Ladder'

“In gorgeous prose that rolls along like the uplands, Anita Sethi opens our eyes to the beauty of our countryside and the hurt and healing found therein. It is rare to find writing that evokes landscape so finely but also conveys our inner world with such power, emotion, vulnerability and truth. I Belong Here deserves its place alongside the Macfarlanes and Macdonalds as a classic of modern British nature writing.” - Patrick Barkham, author of Wild Child

“Manchester-born Sethi achieves a powerful blend of memoir, travelogue and natural history as she reflects on nature, place and belonging; and at its beating heart, her book is a stirring love letter to this troubled country of ours. I find it so moving that such a beautifully written, hate-defying book has been born from such a horrific experience. I Belong Here is a shining example of how books, at their best, can be an act of resistance and a communal force for good.” - Caroline Sanderson, The Bookseller Book of the Month, Editor’s Choice review

“A brilliantly accomplished mix of powerful memoir and revelatory nature writing, Sethi’s account of finding solace in the Northern countryside following a traumatic racial attack is a defiant act of reclamation and an astonishing piece of testimony.” - Best Books to Look Forward to in 2021, Waterstones

“A powerful and moving memoir” - BBC Countryfile Magazine

“Incredibly powerful, moving and beautifully told. Full of wild magic. This book will make the world a better place.” - Lucy Jones, author of 'Losing Eden'

Product Details
ISBN: 9781472983930
ISBN-10: 1472983939
Publisher: Bloomsbury Wildlife
Publication Date: June 29th, 2021
Pages: 320
Language: English