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Benjamin Zephaniah

30 minutes
First broadcast:
Sunday 06 March 2011

James Naughtie and readers talk to Benjamin Zephaniah, the poet and novelist who's equally popular with both adults and children. Our chosen novel is Refugee Boy, written for young adults.

Benjamin is perhaps best known for his performance poetry with a political edge, but he has also written novels for young people. Benjamin is interested in international affairs and travels extensively throughout the developing world. He has visited refugee camps in places like Gaza and Montenegro and in Refugee Boy he borrows from many of the stories he heard, to create a tale that many refugees would recognise.

Refugee Boy is the story of Alem, whose mother is Eritrean and father Ethiopian. With both countries at war, his family are neither safe nor wanted in either country. Alem's father brings him to the UK for a better life.

Benjamin has said it's hard being a writer who's labelled as 'political' - because he's first and foremost interested in people, not politics.

This edition of Bookclub features a group of young adults as well as older readers from the University of the 3rd age, and is chaired by James Naughtie.

April's Bookclub choice : 'The Gingerbread Woman' by Jennifer Johnston.

Producer : Dymphna Flynn.


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