Blog tour: The Go-Between

Welcome to the blog tour for The Go-Between: A Portrait of Growing Up Between Different Worlds by Osman Yousefzada!

More about the book…

The Go-Between provides a window into the Pakistani/Afghan Pashtun community living in Britain: a closed world in which women can’t leave their homes, where girls can’t be educated after the point of puberty (Osman’s own sisters were taken out of school at the age of eleven), where alternative masculinities are suppressed and where the pursuit of self-expression is forbidden.

In this coming-of-age story set in Birmingham in the 1980s and 1990s, British-born artist and renowned fashion designer, Osman Yousefzada, tells us about his own family living in a red-light district on the wrong side of the tracks. The adult world is seen through Osman's eyes as a child: the divide between the world of men and women, living cheek-by-jowl with other migrant communities. Children have to balance Western school teachings with cultural traditions and female erasure and honour-based violence are committed, even as empowering female friendships prevail.

The stories Osman tells, some fantastical, entertaining and funny, others moving and harrowing, take us from Birmingham to the banks of the river Kabul and the river Indus, and, eventually, to the London of Osman’s teenage years. As Osman weaves in and out of these worlds, struggling with the burdens of racism and family expectations, he is forced to realise it is no longer possible to exist in the spaces ‘in between’.

More about the author…

Osman Yousefzada was born in Birmingham in 1977 to parents who are illiterate in English and their mother tongue. He is a celebrated multi-disciplinary artist and world-famous fashion designer whose work provides a strong social commentary. He studied at SOAS and Central Saint Martins, and went on to do a Masters at Cambridge University. As well as being nominated for various fashion awards, Osman has been awarded the prestigious British Fashion Council NEWGEN award for three consecutive seasons. He has also been nominated for the Annual Designs of the Year Award at the Design Museum, and shortlisted for a Frieze Art Award.

Osman’s fashion shows have taken place across the globe and his art practice has been exhibited internationally, from the Whitechapel Gallery and Lahore Biennale, to Mendes Wood Brussels and Dhaka Art Summit. He has also exhibited at the Victoria & Albert Museum, Design Museum London, Ringling Museum in Florida, and Cincinnati Art Museum in Ohio. His solo exhibition, ‘Being Somewhere Else’, which focused on the experience of migration, took place at the Ikon Gallery in Birmingham in 2018. In 2021, Osman’s public installation covered the Selfridges Building in Birmingham. For the summer of 2022, Osman has been commissioned by the British Council as the lead multidisciplinary artist for the 75- year programming for Pakistani independence. This commission will involve a temporary architectural structure in London and a series of interactive activities in and around the public installation, with an opportunity to engage young people to curate events.

Osman also curates a collaborative journal, The Collective, a cross-disciplinary publication featuring artists, writers and other creatives. The Osman fashion label is sold internationally and is worn by celebrities including Beyoncé, Lupita Nyong’o, Thandiwe Newton, Gwen Stefani, Emma Watson, Freida Pinto and many more. Osman proudly represents the empowerment of women, sustainability, diversity, and inclusivity.

For more information, please see: www.osmanstudio.com/About

My impressions…

How other cultures live and integrate (or not) in the community of their adoptive countries is a topic that has always intrigued me. Ultimately, Osman Yousefzada’s story is a story of a success. The stories he tells, however, can be somewhat difficult to read if you’re peeping into a world that is completely unfamiliar to you. Difficult, yes, but nevertheless worth it. Oh. So. Worth. It.

Three words to describe it. Poignant. Complex. Eye-opening.

Do I like the cover? I do, it’s the right combination of modern and traditional.

Have I read any other books by the same author? This is Yousefzada’s first book and it encouraged me to go and browse his website and his further work.

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