Books

Top 5 books with a sense of place and community, chosen by writer and journalist Aniefiok Ekpoudom

Five of the best books that leave the reader with a strong sense of their setting, selected by writer Anifiok Ekpoudom

1970s New York is brought to vivid life in Jacqueline Woodson's Another Brooklyn. Image: Documerica on Unsplash

Whether fiction, non-fiction or poetry, writing can leave readers with a keen sense of the community it describes, says South London writer and journalist Aniefiok ‘Neef’ Ekpoudom.

Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

Jacqueline Woodson brings Brooklyn in the ’70s into rich colour. Watch life unfold through the eyes of August and her few friends as they live through a shifting period in the history of New York City. A tender, deftly written novel. 

Where I Was From by Joan Didion

A soul searching read that sees Joan Didion – one of my favourite ever writers – unearth and narrate a deep rooted family history in the vast expanses of California. Stretching from 1766 to 2001, it seeks to explore how connected the current reality of the state and its inhabitants are to its past.  

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Poor by Caleb Femi

A remarkable collection of poetry that intimately explores the dreams, joys and burdens of young black boys growing up in twenty-first century Peckham. The landscapes of the city are so vividly rendered. It feels as if the concrete and the roads are speaking. 

Pappyland by Wright Thompson

Maybe the greatest living journalist. On the surface Pappyland is about the Van Winkle family and the three generations who have steered their whiskey business. Really, it’s about preservation, legacy and grief in the soul of the American South. 

Cut Short by Ciaran Thapar

Ciaran is a friend of mine. His book Cut Short shows the true power of non-fiction. Painfully researched and beautifully written, it’s set in a chain of communities across South London and follows the lives of three young men and a community leader as they navigate the youth violence epidemic sweeping the city. 

Where We Come From by Aniefi ok Ekpoudom

Where We Come From: Rap, Home and Hope in Modern Britain by Aniefiok Ekpoudom is out now (Faber, £20)

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