Published by Thread Books in February 2023, Alexis Keir’s Windward Family: An atlas of love, loss and belonging explores the lives of people who, over generations, have travelled from Saint Vincent to England. The author will deliver a talk about the book and how he came to write it on Tuesday, March 21, 2023, 18:30 – 20:00 (GMT) at Brixton Library (Brixton Oval London SW2 1JQ). Register for event here.
Book Description: From the Caribbean to Great Britain, and from the 19th century to the present, Windward Family takes us inside the beating heart of a Black British family, showing us how we become who we are, and how the search for ourselves always leads us to the same place – home.
‘I had gaps to fill in my family’s history and their beautiful island cradle. Distant voices had started calling to me and, as I booked my flights and packed my bags, I ached to return to where my mother and father had sailed from.’
Twenty years after living there as a child, Alexis Keir returns to the Caribbean island of Saint Vincent. He is keen to uncover lost memories and rediscover old connections. But he also carries with him the childhood scars of being separated from his parents and put into uncaring hands. Inspired by the embrace of his relatives in the Caribbean, Alexis begins to unravel the stories of others who left Saint Vincent, searching through diary pages and newspaper articles, shipping and hospital records, and faded photographs. He uncovers tales of exploitation, endeavour and bravery of those who had to find a home far away from where they were born. A child born with vitiligo, torn from his mother’s arms to be exhibited as a showground attraction in England; a woman who, in the century before the Windrush generation, became one of the earliest Black nurses to be recorded as working in a London hospital; the young boy who became a footman in a Yorkshire stately home. And Alexis’s mother, a student nurse who arrives in 1960s London, ready to start a new life in a cold, grey country – and the man from her island who she falls in love with.
Alexis Keir’s formative years were spent growing up in Luton. He spent a year in the Caribbean as a child and still returns there regularly. In 2019 he was selected as a participant for the London Writers Award Programme run by Spread the Word. He was also one of the 2021 cohorts of the London Library’s Emerging Writer’s Programme and, in the same year, was shortlisted for The Cecile de Jongh Literary Prize. This is his first book.
To purchase the book, see https://www.hachette.co.uk/titles/alexis-keir/windward-family/9781909770713/
Register for the event at https://nam02.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/
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