PICKING apart the concept of identity and what it means to be British are the core themes of barristerturned-journalist Afua Hirsch’s timely book Brit(ish), and in conversation with fellow writer Colin Grant, she delved into some of the main themes.

Brit(ish) is centred around Hirsch’s personal experiences, from growing up a mixed-race child in leafy (largely white) Wimbledon, to her search for a place where she would not feel bothered, all the while interrogating notions of race and identity, Britishness and nationhood. Colin Grant began by reading excerpts from a couple of reviews of the book (one of which he admits to having written) demonstrating the breadth of responses.

Hirsch explained that several vitriolic responses led her to feel vindicated in writing the book, as several reviewers resorted to personal attacks in the absence of a convincing counterargument.

Questions from the audience prompted interesting discussions from the paucity of language surrounding identity to the fragility of Britishness and interrogating “whiteness”.

While Hirsch did not claim to have the answers, insisting that Brit(ish) asks more questions than it resolves, her articulacy suggests that she might be a good person to start or continue some difficult conversations.