Anita Sethi was on a journey through northern England when she became the victim of a race hate crime. After the event Anita experienced panic attacks and anxiety. A crushing sense of claustrophobia made her long for wide open spaces; the Pennines – the ‘backbone of Britain’ – called to Anita with a magnetic force. Although a racist had told her to leave, she was intent on travelling freely and without fear. Anita’s journey through the landscapes of the North is one of reclamation, a way of saying that she belongs in the UK as a brown woman, as much as a white man does. Her journey transforms what began as an ugly experience of hate into one offering hope and finding beauty after brutality. Every footstep is an act of persistence. Every word written against the rising tide of hate speech is an act of resistance.
Kerri nÃ Dochartaigh was born in Derry, Northern Ireland, at the very height of the Troubles. She was brought up on a grey and impoverished council estate on the wrong side of town. But for her family, and many others, there was no right side. One parent was Catholic, the other was Protestant. In the space of one year they were forced out of two homes and when she was eleven a homemade petrol bomb was thrown through her bedroom window. Terror was in the very fabric of the city, and for families like Kerri’s, the ones who fell between the cracks of identity, it seemed there was no escape. In ‘Thin Places’, a mixture of memoir, history and nature writing, Kerri explores how nature kept her sane and helped her heal, how violence and poverty are never more than a stone’s throw from beauty and hope, and how we are, once again, allowing our borders to become hard, and terror to creep back in.