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The Black Flamingo

Written by Dean Atta

Illustrated by Anshika Khullar

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The Black Flamingo Review

Debuts of the Month Family / Home Stories Featured Books for 13+ readers Featured Books for Young Adults Poetry Romance / Relationship Stories

Fabulously authentic free-form fiction about navigating intersectional identities and finding your wings to fly free.

Longlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2021 | Shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2020 | May 2020 Debut of the Month | Winner of the Stonewall Book Award | Shortlisted for the Jhalak Prize 2020

Uplifting and dazzlingly unique, this coming-of-age treasure explores identity and sexuality with an emboldening message to remember that “you have the right to be you”.

As a young Barbie-loving boy, mixed race Michael wonders if he’s “only half” of everything, to which his mother poignantly replies: “Don’t let anyone tell you/that you are half-black/and half-white. Half-Cypriot/ and half-Jamaican./ You are a full human being.” But he doesn’t feel like a whole human being. Dubbed a “queerdo and weirdo” by bullies and subjected to “batty bwoy” taunts through his teenage years, he leaves London for Brighton University with hope in his heart. But even here Michael feels “like Goldilocks; trying to find a group of people/the perfect fit for me”. He doesn’t feel black enough for the Caribbean Society, or Greek enough for Hellenic Society, or queer enough for the LBGT Society. Then Michael finally finds a fit at Drag Society where he becomes The Black Flamingo, “someone fabulous, wild and strong. With or without a costume on.”

Michael’s journey is complex, moving and told with a raw vitality that makes the soul soar and the heart sing, with Anshika Khullar’s magnificent illustrations and the smart design adding further depth, prompting the reader to pause for thought as his story requires.

Joanne Owen

The Black Flamingo Synopsis

This is not about being ready, it's not even about being fierce, or fearless, IT'S ABOUT BEING FREE.

Michael waits in the stage wings, wearing a pink wig, pink fluffy coat and black heels. One more step will see him illuminated by spotlight. He has been on a journey of bravery to get here, and he is almost ready to show himself to the world in bold colours ... Can he emerge as The Black Flamingo?

*The paperback edition has beautiful gold foil added to the striking cover design*

The Black Flamingo Press Reviews

Intensely moving and heart-warming Cosmo Bold Guardian

I loved every word   Malorie Blackman

Dean Atta's tender coming of age novel casts a fresh and enriching perspective on what it means to be seen as different at the level of race, culture, identity, heritage and gender ... an important book for young people -- Malika Booker - Poet

A bold and joyous hymn to self-discovery and acceptance - The Bookseller

The Black Flamingo is the book I wish I had when I was younger ... joyful, emotional and full of depth -- Travis Alabanza - performance artist and poet

A very modern masterpiece - The Guyliner

A moving coming-of-age story, written with heart and panache - Irish Independent

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781444948608
Publication date: 05/03/2020
Publisher: Hodder Children's Books an imprint of Hachette Children's Group
Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9781444948585
Publication date: 08/08/2019
Publisher: Hodder Children's Books an imprint of Hachette Children's Group
Format: Hardback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781444948608
Publication date: 5th March 2020
Author: Dean Atta
Illustrator: Anshika Khullar
Publisher: Hodder Children's Books an imprint of Hachette Children's Group
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 368 pages
Suitable for: 13+ readers, YA readers
Genres: Family / Home Stories, Poetry, Romance / Relationship Stories
Recommendations: Debuts of the Month
Collections: Diverse Voices - 80 Children's Books that Celebrate Difference, LGBTQI Literature celebrating 50 Years of Pride, LGBT+ History Month 2022, 20 Verse Novels to Shout About this World Poetry Day,
Other Categories: If They Like...They'll Love

About Dean Atta

Dean Atta's debut poetry collection, I Am Nobody's Nigger, was shortlisted for the Polari First Book Prize. His poems deal with themes of race, gender, identity and growing up, and have appeared on BBC One's The One Show and several times on BBC Radio 4, BBC World Service and Channel 4. Dean was named as one of the most influential LGBT people in the UK by the Independent on Sunday. He regularly performs across the UK and internationally. Photo credit Thomas Sammut.

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