'Against anything I had ever been told was possible, I was turning white. On the surface of my skin, a miracle was quietly brewing . . .'
Suburban Australia. Sweltering heat. Three bedroom blonde-brick. Family of five. Beat-up Ford Falcon. Vegemite on toast. Maxine Beneba Clarke's life is just like all the other Aussie kids on her street.
Except for this one, glaring, inescapably obvious thing.From one of Australia's most exciting writers, and the author of the multi-award-winning Foreign Soil, comes The Hate Race: a powerful, funny, and at times devastating memoir about growing up black in white middle-class Australia.
About the Author
Maxine Beneba Clarke is a widely published Australian writer of Afro-Caribbean descent and the author of the poetry collections Gil Scott Heron Is on Parole and Nothing Here Needs Fixing.
Maxine's short fiction, non-fiction and poetry have been published in numerous publications including Overland, The Age, Meanjin, The Saturday Paper and The Big Issue.
Her critically acclaimed short fiction collection Foreign Soil
(2014) won the ABIA for Literary Fiction Book of the Year 2015, the 2015 Indie Book Award for Debut Fiction, and Maxine was also named as one of the Sydney Morning Herald's Best Young Novelists for 2015, as well as being shortlisted for the Matt Richell Award for New Writing at the 2015 ABIAs and the 2015 Stella Prize.
A collection of Maxine's poetry Carrying The World,
her memoir The Hate Race
and her first children's picture book The Patchwork Bike
will be published in 2016.
Review By Caroline Baum
There’s been a lot of anticipation for this searingly honest, painful memoir from Clarke, whose Foreign Soil
collection of short stories left no one in any doubt as to the ferocity of her talent. Oh, and Dave Eggers is a fan.
Clarke is committed to writing about the ugly aspects of life she has experienced first-hand but in beautiful, measured language. Her manifesto is horribly timely with racism very much on the upswing and in global headlines. Like Ta-Nehisi Coates’ award-winning Between The World and Me,
this harrowing memoir seems set to detonate around the world and will no doubt become a classic. I hope it is taught in schools.
Rather than tiptoe up to her topic, Clarke tackles prejudice head on; we meet her first as a weary mother pushing her daughter in a pram on her way to collect her infant son from primary school and being suddenly the target of shockingly offensive abuse from a stranger in the street. More painful still is her account of the personally targeted racism she was subjected to at school. It is relentless and it occurs at all levels - teachers, parents and peers are all active and complicit in denying Clarke equal status. Most profoundly, like so many victims of bullying, she perpetuates the cycle of abuse, picking on a Sikh classmate.
It’s not all grim: Shakespeare comes to the rescue in an episode of inspired colour blind casting. Clarke finds her voice, literally, as she discovers she has a gift for debating. And her mother is a wonderful example of towering parental integrity.
At times I felt so bad for Clarke and so ashamed of how she had been treated - I wanted to reach out and give her a big hug and say how sorry I was for all that she had been through. But she does not need my pity and anyway, success is the best revenge. Bigots are no match for a talent this huge.
With force and grace, by stealth and shock, The Hate Race makes its point, gets under the reader's skin. - The Saturday PaperThe Hate
Race is a moving memoir of national significance - The Stella Prize
Clarke's book is utterly compelling. And it might just break your heart. - Australian Financial Review
When you think about racism as one big, swarming mass of hatred, you're ignoring the small words and actions that have huge impacts on individual people, but Maxine's book makes those aggressions impossible to ignore. The Hate Race
... should be essential reading for every Australian/every person. - Brodie Lancaster - author of No Way! Okay, Fine.
She is not quiet in this memoir, and we need to hear her. - The Australian
Maxine Beneba Clarke is THE powerful voice of Australian literature....A book like that is important. Maxine Beneba Clarke has written a very important book. An extraordinary book. A truly remarkable and powerful book. A book I hope as many people as possible will read. - Jon Page, owner of Pages & Pages Booksellers
Maxine Beneba Clarke's storytelling in The Hate Race
has a heft to it that is at once steeped in history, and also exquisitely and playfully modern; it is lyrical, sincere and ironic, but above all, it is fierce. What starts out as a nostalgic childhood memoir soon turns into a revealing account of racis