This powerful autobiography is written in Buchi Emecheta’s frank and inimitable style. It is gutsy, down-to earth and deeply confessional. At the same time, it reveals an author at the height of her powers reflecting with some bemusement on the unlikeliness of her own success.
At the age of twenty-two, Buchi Emecheta left her husband and found herself alone with five small children to support in cold and foggy North London- a long way from her native Nigeria. With few qualifications and no prospects – how was she to keep her head above water? By becoming a writer, she decided – and through sheer determination and against all the odds, that was what she became. She fought for a degree in Sociology and a decent place to live, and her life changed when in 1972, the New Statesman, serialised her observational essays and her first book, In the Ditch was published.
Emecheta’s colourful account of her young life in Africa, her struggle to establish herself in the UK and then as writer – subject to the whims of publishers and the vagaries of the Establishment – evokes with wry humour and raw feeling just what it means to be poor, black, female and unrecognised in London.
“For many of my readers, who are forever asking how an African woman could come to Britain and make a modest living writing books in a language that is not her first nor her second or third but her fourth, Head Above Water will throw some light.” Buchi Emecheta
‘Buchi Emecheta is a Born writer.’ The Sunday Times