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Letters to Gil


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A Luminous Memoir of Racism, Life in the Care System and the Power of Discovering Music under the Mentorship of Gil Scott-Heron - with a Foreword from Lemn Sissay

About the Author

Malik Al Nasir is an author, performance poet and filmmaker from Liverpool. He has produced and appeared in several documentaries with Gil Scott-Heron, The Last Poets, Benjamin Zephaniah, Public Enemy, and many other luminaries. Malik started tracing his roots back through slavery over 15 years ago and his pioneering research has been recognised by Sir Hilary Beckles (Chair CARICOM Commission for slavery reparations), historian David Olusoga, and The University of Cambridge, where Malik has just started a PhD in history with a full scholarship in recognition of the significance of his life story.


'A searing, triumphant story. A testament to the tenacity of the human spirit as well as a beautiful ode to an iconic figure'
Irenosen Okojie

'An incredible story, one that will have you jaw-dropped in disbelief at the cruelty meted out to Malik as a boy but also uplifted by his courageous, irrepressible exuberance, by his determination to defy the shitty hand he was dealt after he was put into the care system. And at the centre of this remarkable story stands the towering figure of Gil Scott-Heron ...This is an intensely powerful and vivid memoir ... When a book like Letters to Gil comes along, you are reminded of how indomitable the human spirit can be and how light can emerge from darkness, and joy from pain'
Jamie Byng

'Letters to Gil [is] part of a growing corpus of Black British memoir that confronts difficult subjects ... It is also a tribute to artists who blend creative expression with fearless political commentary, such as the hip-hop artists Mos Def, Nas and the members of Public Enemy. With this brave memoir, Al Nasir can be counted among them'

'So compelling ... Given the magnetism that he clearly displays I only hope that he will find time to be a new leader for the UK jazz movement ... Voices such as his are certainly needed. His story is a wake-up call'

'Tells the story of his life - including his brutal treatment in care homes as a child - and his friendship with the musician-poet [Gil Scott-Heron]. His candid, eye-opening story includes a joyously uplifting tale of the time he accompanied Scott-Heron to meet Stevie Wonder'
Independent, Books of the Month

'A harrowing yet ultimately heartening memoir, Letters to Gil transcends the purely personal to make an important contribution to the burgeoning science of public history, championed by the likes of David Olusoga'
London Jazz News

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