Tessa McWatt's Shame On Me Reading List

By Scribe

By Scribe

To celebrate the publication of the new paperback edition of Shame On Me: a memoir of race and belonging, Tessa McWatt has selected some of the titles that influenced her writing.

Shame On Me: a memoir of race and belonging

Tessa McWatt

£9.99 £9.49

In this deeply personal reckoning with race and belonging, Tessa interweaves her own experiences as a mixed-race woman with a stark and unvarnished history of slavery and indenture, as well as observations on literature and popular culture.

Black Skin, White Masks

Frantz Fanon

£9.99 £9.49

The most thorough examination of the psychology of racism that I’ve read, with its roots in colonialism. Fanon analyses whiteness and blackness, skin and masks, and forces us to look at what lies beneath them.

Invisible Man

Ralph Ellison

£9.99 £9.49

This is one of the most in-depth and harrowing examinations of race that I read as a young person. It changed my way of seeing and opened up a world of alienation and structural inequality in the US that is still relevant, even though the book was published in the 1950s. It’s about the search for an authentic self, raising the question of if it’s possible in a structurally unequal society.

The Bluest Eye

Toni Morrison

£9.99 £9.49

This novel devastated me when I first read it. It’s a story about the desire for transformation forced on a young Black girl through her internalisation of white supremacy. It’s a shattered, fragmented narrative, of violence towards blackness and internalised violence towards the self.

Kiss of the Fur Queen: A Novel

Tomson Highway


This is a powerful novel about two Cree brothers who have been sexually abused by priests in a Christian residential school in Canada. Out of their trauma, the boys become artists – one a dancer, the other a musician. The writing is alive with not only the tragedy of the lost Cree culture it describes, but with the force of resistance, through dance and music, through the power of ancestors.

The God of Small Things: Winner of the Booker Prize

Arundhati Roy

£9.99 £9.49

One of my favourite books, this novel is a story of love that straddles caste. I read this novel without putting it down, in awe of Roy’s use of language, her fine ear attuned to tiny moments of individual voice, yet able to capture the symphony of a region of India. In the book we are reminded that small things are the true things, the best things, the only things upon which to make sense of human struggles.

Glass And God

Anne Carson

£15.00 £14.25

Anne Carson’s poetry spans forms and topics and voices that give us a wide world, with a sense of history always in the room.

Hold Everything Dear: Dispatches on Survival and Resistance

John Berger

£9.99 £9.49

There are so many Berger books to recommend, but this one has a particular place in my heart because I took it travelling with me to Cambodia. A book of essays, it engages the reader in political, social and personal questions that encourage you to see the world differently. That is always the gift of a John Berger book.

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