Courttia Newland: The Evidence of Things Ignored

Shantella Y. Sherman | 10/30/2013, 3 p.m.
London youth have an identity problem.
Courttia Newland, author of "The Scholar," penned a definitive book that addresses the experiences of London's young adult population. Photo by Shantella Y. Sherman

“I was at my wit's end – unemployed – I'd been working as a studio engineer for a while but it wasn't really working. So I thought I should try and write this book. Eight months later I had my first book, The Scholar. When I go into schools they remind me that I'm getting old, I never felt that way before, I'm realizing there's a gap now . . . A lot of people will not be able to get it. I'm aware of that. But that's fine. But the people here living in Ladbroke Grove in council estates they get it. I'm not saying you have to live here to get it but either you want to know about that sort of stuff or you don't,” Newland said.

Inspired by people and stories surrounding his Shepherd's Bush, West London childhood, Newland said he wanted to bring the authenticity of everyday youth to life.

“Having read all my life and found it a great source of pleasure, one thing had always bothered me – I never saw myself reflected in the pages of anything I read. This prompted me to write my first book and has kept me inspired to date. Telling untold stories keeps me alive,” Newland said.

Newland’s other acclaimed works include Snakeskin (2002), The Dying Wish (2006), Music for the Off-Key (2006), and A Book of Blues (2011). He is co-editor of IC3: The Penguin Book of New Black Writing in Britain (2000) and has penned short stories featured in many anthologies. Newland’s career includes both screen and playwriting; plays include B is for Black, and an adaptation of Euripedes Women of Troy. He was nominated for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the CWA Dagger in the Library Award, the Alfred Fagon Award, the Frank O’Conner Award and The Edge Hill Prize 2012. The Gospel According to Cane, was published by Akashic Books (US) and Telegram (UK) in February 2013, and is available through booksellers worldwide.