Black Women in Europe

Meet UK author and journalist Precious Williams

Biography
Precious Williams’s first book, Precious, A True Story, published by Bloomsbury in August 2010, is a memoir about growing up in trans-racial’private foster care’.  (A US edition, titled Color Blind, is published by Bloomsbury USA).

Precious’s story has been featured on Sky News and  BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour and in the Daily Telegraph & the Guardian.  Her memoir was also serialized in The Times and featured as a People Magazine “Great Read,” a Sunday Times “Must Read” and Elle Magazine‘s “Recommended Read” for August 2010. A German translation of the book, titled Farbenblind, was published in October 2010. Precious was first published aged eight when her poem took first prize in a poetry competition (she won £2).
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Since then she has been a Contributing Editor at Elle, Cosmopolitan and the Mail on Sunday’s ‘Night & Day’ magazine. Precious’s work has also been published in The Times, Marie Claire, the Sunday Times Magazine, the Daily Telegraph, the Guardian, the Financial Times, Glamour, Korean Vogue, New York magazine, Wallpaper and several other publications. Her journalism focuses on health and lifestyle features and celebrity interviews.  Notable interviewees include [click on each link to read the interviews] Jon Bon JoviNina Simone, Yoko Ono,  Destiny’s Child, P Diddy, Bryan FerryLenny Kravitz, Naomi Campbell and Ali G.

Born in the UK, Precious is of Sierra Leonean and Nigerian descent and she has lived in London and in New York.  She studied English Language & Literature at Oxford and holds a Postgraduate Diploma in Periodical Journalism from the London College of Printing.

Precious lives in London and is at work on her second book, a novel and she is a Children’s Ambassador for the charity Africans Unite Against Child Abuse.

Synopsis:

‘Where are you from?’ is a question I always find hard to answer. 1971: an ad in Nursery World. Private foster parents required for a three-month-old baby – me. The lucky applicant is a 57-year-old white woman who has adored ‘coloured’ children ever since reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin and falling in love with the character Topsy… My mother arrives, a haughty Nigerian woman in a convertible with a Moses basket on the seat beside her, setting the net curtains in this all-white council estate twitching. And though  my privileged mother claims the whole place makes her skin crawl, she returns to London with an empty basket beside her, choosing this home for me because, unusually for the estate, my new foster mother talks proper, and I’ll need a posh white accent for the bright future I have ahead of me.Babypic

I’ll cling onto that idea – that I’ve a bright future ahead of me – even though there’s nothing in my upbringing to warrant it. Even though my mother’s love consists of long absences, confusing behaviour and dauntingly high expectations. Even though my foster mother’s love is overwhelming and suffocating. Even though, from infancy,  I seem to be a magnet for abusive sexual attention from  men I barely know. Even though the authorities have no idea where to put me or where I belong, and nor, really, do I. Preciousis the story of growing up black in a white community, of struggling to find an identity that fits mid conflicting messages, of deciphering a childhood full of secrets and dysfunction.

Reviews:

‘Gorgeously written with a fiercely honest voice. Williams will grow up [to become] Precious, “the writer, the grown woman…” How she gets there is a serpentine road that’s as shatteringly moving as it is incredible. This book is not so much a coming-of-age story as a harrowing coming-to-be tale.’**THE BOSTON GLOBE**

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‘Astonishingly, there is little bitterness here: Williams’s writing is accomplished — pacey yet carefully spare, so that sadness and anger hover over her narrative rather than suffocate it. Such is the vividness of her characters and dialogue that, having unburdened herself, Williams now might choose — with the promise of some success — to turn her back on her day job as a journalist and find a powerful new voice by making the leap into fiction.’  **THE SUNDAY TIMES**

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‘Precious Williams upends every expectation about race, class, gender and ambition in her startlingly powerful memoir’.’ **USA TODAY**

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‘The confusion, ignorance, clarity and struggles Williams encounters along the way are riveting reading with Williams’ deft descriptions and child-like honesty. The ongoing contradictions and battles among Williams, Nanny and Williams’ mother are mesmerizing…. Throughout it all, Williams retains her dignity and imparts a simple wisdom.’ **SAN FRANCISCO BOOK REVIEW**

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‘Precious Williams’ brave examination of identity and loss reminds us that by going into the heart of what we are most afraid of we find our liberation.’ **EVE ENSLER, creator of THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES**

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‘Recounts how this London-born daughter of a Nigerian princess came to be raised by an elderly white woman in an English housing project [council estate]’ ELLE Magazine ‘Recommended Read’ for August 2010

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‘Powerful and arresting memoir…’ **THE BOOKSELLER MAGAZINE**

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‘Williams offers an English journalist’s wry, charming memoir of being a black Nigerian girl growing up in a 1970s white foster home…Her beautifully wroung memoir reaches back deeply and generously to regain the preciousness she felt lost to her.’ **PUBLISHERS WEEKLY**

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‘An affecting memoir…Williams touches on themes that have ever opportunity to come off syrupy, but she continually rescues the narrative from mawkishness…the story moves along toward a satisfying conclusion that speaks to aspiration and desire.  Well done.’ **KIRKUS REVIEWS**

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Precious is an extraordinary book.  Alternately alarming and funny, always spare and beautifully crafted, this is a testament to the internal exile of subordinated social groups that no reader should miss.’ **Denise Mina, author of THE DEAD HOUR**

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‘Precious is an achingly beautiful triumph of will that is both heart-wrenching and hopeful.  I was riveted to the pages, completely immersed in her world, even taking the book to sporting events and reading while everyone around me was cheering on the game.’ **Lolita Files, author of CHILD OF GOD**

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