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Between Starshine and Clay

Conversations from the African Diaspora

Published by Footnote Press
Distributed by Simon & Schuster
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About The Book

Conversations with the most distinguished black thinkers of our times, including Toni Morrison, Claudia Rankine, Wole Soyinka and Michelle Obama, on race, decolonisation, systemic inequalities, and the climate crisis.


In a series of incisive and intimate encounters Sarah Ladipo Manyika introduces some of the most distinguished Black thinkers of our times, including Nobel Laureates Toni Morrison and Wole Soyinka, and civic leaders first lady Michelle Obama and Senator Cory Booker.

She searches for truth with poet Claudia Rankine and historian Henry Louis Gates, Jr. She discusses race and gender with South African filmmaker Xoliswa Sithole and American actor and playwright Anna Deavere Smith. She interrogates the world around us with pioneering publisher Margaret Busby, parliamentarian Lord Michael Hastings and civil rights activist Pastor Evan Mawarire - who dared to take on President Robert Mugabe and has lived to tell the tale. We also meet the living embodiment of the many threads, ideas and histories in this book through the profile of her fabulous 102-year-old friend, Mrs Willard Harris.

In journeys that book-end the collection, Sarah Ladipo Manyika reflects on her own experience of being seen as 'oyinbo' in Nigeria, African in England, Arab in France, coloured in Southern Africa and Black in America, while feeling the least Black and most human among her fellow travellers, explorers all, against the sharp white relief of the South Pole.

About The Author

Sarah Ladipo Manyika is a British-Nigerian-American writer of novels, short stories and essays translated into several languages. She is author of the best-selling novel In Dependence (2009) and multiple shortlisted novel Like A Mule Bringing Ice Cream To The Sun (2016), and has had work published in publications including Granta, The Guardian, the Washington Post and Transfuge among others. Sarah serves as Board Chair for the women's writing residency, Hedgebrook; she was previously Board Director for the Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco; and has been a judge for the Goldsmiths Prize, California Book Awards, Aspen Words Literary Prize, and Chair of judges for the Pan-African Etisalat Prize.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Footnote Press (January 31, 2023)
  • Length: 288 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781804440087

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Raves and Reviews

This collection presents the author’s conversations with notable Black figures, including Wole Soyinka, Michelle Obama and Henry Louis Gates Jr., and her reflections on being racialized in Africa, Europe and America.

– New York Times

Even though Sarah Ladipo Manyika's medium is language, to read her Between Starshine and Clay is like seeing an animator at work. Little by little, we see her subjects taking shape, and then, with a sudden blink, we are being invited to participate in choices made, joys, regrets, and lives fully lived. A lesson in magic from Manyika's writing.

– Ato Quayson

Sarah brings us an important book full of inspiring voices and leaders engaged in the most important issues of the day. It is an amazing collection that will inspire readers young and old

– Dame Vivian Hunt

What draws me to this work is what inspired it: A desire to bring Black voices from the African diaspora to the foreground. And Sarah Ladipo Manyika has assembled her subjects very carefully; each person in this book indeed conveys the power, strength and sheer diversity of the African diaspora. This is a one-of-a-kind book, a necessary and important one

– Delroy Lindo

Sarah Ladipo Manyika brings an intimate, eclectic, and delightfully startling freshness in this remarkably curated celebration of the African Diaspora. Her curiosity and ranging insights sharpens the genius, and the humanity, of her (already familiar) subjects, and our appreciation of them, and what an absolute joy to savor Between Starshine and Clay

– NoViolet Bulawayo, author of Glory

Extraordinary conversations with many of the greatest minds and most inspiring figures of our age. Each encounter framed and presented with enormous literary skill and grace. Together they form a snap-shot of the where the peoples of the Black diaspora stand, today in the early 21st Century, and how much has been overcome to get here.

– David Olusoga, author of Black and British

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