Tangled Roots – True-Life Tales of Mixed and Multi-Racial Families, edited by Dr. Katy Massey is an anthology by writers from the North of England.
Tangled Roots “features stories of inter-racial love and growing up in Yorkshire and the North” (of England), with an emphasis on “mixed families rather than mixed people”. Even the titles of the chapters give you a flavour of the writers’ experiences, It took me thirty years to get to Bangladesh, Processed Sugar, Is she yours? Yorkshire puds ‘n’ yam fritters, and No Blacks, No Irish.
The book was transformed into a touring performance, that reached as far as the US (Tangled Roots section starts at 2.07)
In the introduction, the editor Dr. Kate Massey says, “When I was growing up, in Yorkshire…I had no books to read that described the lives of families like mine”. I think many of us can identify with that statement. For me, its often my motivation to write.
Adam Lowe, in his childhood tale of being a mixed, queer boy describes a trip to the market with his Dad, on a quest for a blond wig for young Adam. He tells us that “I’d never thought about being mixed race. It wasn’t something I had the words for,” but that “people asked if my sister and I were Italian, Spanish, Chinese, (South) Asian, Turkish. It disturbed them that they couldn’t pin us down.”
Seni Seneviratne ends her heart-warming piece with the story of the wedding ring brought over to England from Colombo, Sri Lanka (formerly known as Ceylon) in the 1940’s for her parents’ wedding. “It’s a symbol of the journey between the two continents…the thread of love.” She tells us that she wears the ring now, and “it reminds me of the balance that exists between my English and Ceylonese heritage,” and that “when my parents were married almost seventy years ago it was not a matter of colour, but an act of love.”
I stayed up late into the night with this book because I couldn’t put it down. Each story or poem was different, and the writers were from a range of different heritages and experiences, but still, I found elements of my own story in each of theirs.
by Clare Ramsaran