Book Review: ‘Brown Baby: A Memoir of Race, Family and Home’ paints a candid picture about parenthood, death, and food - GulfToday

Book Review: ‘Brown Baby: A Memoir of Race, Family and Home’ paints a candid picture about parenthood, death, and food


Nikesh Shukla holds a copy of ‘Brown Baby: A Memoir of Race, Family and Home.’

Gulf Today Report

“How do I raise a brown baby?” Nikesh Shukla questions his dead mother, as he grapples with the task of nurturing two mixed-race girls in modern Britain.

Shukla, comedy writer and filmmaker, knows a thing or two about the reality of race relations, having been raised in the UK.

He was called “shit skin” at school and, as an adult, has suffered death threats for his opinions.


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Shukla is certain that post-Brexit, racism has come out in the open.

“We haven’t sprouted more racists. People have just decided it doesn’t matter as much to hide it anymore. 

I enjoyed the warmth, tone and dry wit of Shukla’s memoir, which includes lots of random observations, reads The Independent’s review. 

The central themes of the book are parenthood, racism, death, and food.

In “Brown Baby,” Shukla gets unabashedly candid about his own problems. “I can measure my depression by what goes into my mouth,” he admits.

His reflections on the “drudgery of parenthood” are bitingly honest (“trying your best not to live in filth, eat filth, wear filth”).

He also has thought-provoking things to say about grief, father-son relationships, and the problems of explaining death to your children without fostering an existential dread. 

The book, which slips deftly between humour and seriousness, explores how to find hope in a world full of divisions, overrun with patriarchy and climate disasters.

In an address to his daughters, he points out the fallacy of a meritocracy in Britain, “a country run by chums giving jobs to their chums who then give their chums peerages for saving their chums money on tax. I hope you live to see a world where you work at an appropriate amount to have the same opportunities. It won’t be in my lifetime though, Ganga.” 

Although interspersed with bleak scenarios, on the bright side, this constantly engaging book does teach you how to eat a mango properly. 

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