Review: The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

Hi all!

My name is Chiara and I am a Bookworm.

This week I want to talk about an LGBTQ book that seemed to have passed my notice last year. I saw it about and I saw other people’s reviews of it but for some reason I didn’t think about buying it and I didn’t think about reading it. I now feel like such an idiot because it may have been the best book I read all year and the fastest book I read this year.

I bough this last Thursday at Waterstones in Liverpool and I started reading it while I was waiting for my lunch, I read some more while sat listening to a busker and then even more when I stopped for a drink mid afternoon and then I finished it on the train home. I had actually finished it about half way through my journey home and started one of the others I had bought that day. I think I may have got my reading bug back … though I shouldn’t talk to soon. I may jinx myself.

But enough of me whittling on … here is the book.

The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

Goodreads | Waterstones

Publisher: Hodder Children’s Books

Date published: 8th August 2019

Format: Paperback

Pages: 364

Genre: Poetry, LGBT, Young Adult, Contemporary

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐


I masquerade in makeup and feathers and I am applauded.

A boy comes to terms with his identity as a mixed-race gay teen – then at university he finds his wings as a drag artist, The Black Flamingo. A bold story about the power of embracing your uniqueness. Sometimes, we need to take charge, to stand up wearing pink feathers – to show ourselves to the world in bold colour.

My Thoughts

The main theme that I felt through out this book is self acceptance. Michael is accepted and supported by his mother, his sister, his friends all through the book but it isn’t until he really accepts himself, and come to terms with who he is and proud of that that he is able to stand up on that stage and shout, in many other words, I am what I am. A lesson I think that we all could learn.

I enjoy the way that Michael sees and presents the world for the reader, in metaphor and colourful analogies and sometimes cold hard truths.

The writing is in half sentences and full sentences and I really enjoy the cadence and flow of the work. You see deleted text messages and half thoughts and obsession over unreturned text messages and un-requited love letters. It’s like you really are within Michael’s mind.

Atta has also, at least for me, made poetry fun. This is not the first poetry novel that I have read, and I have no doubt that it will be the last as this style become more popular, but it opened my eyes to exactly what poetry can be. This book was definitely not the tired, old, over-analysed, rigid, strict, perfectly formed poetry that I had to suffer through in my English class. It had a life to it that brings life to the reader. My English teachers probably could analyse this to death, but I wouldn’t want them to. I am happy with what I have understood from the poems, and I am sure that the next time that I read it I may again a different incite into the characters as my understanding of life, the world around me and the written word changes.

This is definitely a classic in the making.

I highly recommend this book. Whether you are into poetry of not, you will enjoy this book. Deserves every one of those five stars and more.

About the Author

Dean was shortlisted for the Polari First Book Prize for his debut poetry collection, I Am Nobody’s Nigger. His poems have been anthologised by Bad Betty Press, Emma Press, Stripes Publishing, Team Angelica and have appeared on BBC One, BBC Radio 4, BBC World Service and Channel 4. Dean was named as one of the most influential LGBT people in the UK by the Independent on Sunday. He regularly performs across the UK and internationally. Dean is a member of Keats House Poets Forum and Malika’s Poetry Kitchen. He has a Philosophy and English BA from the University of Sussex and a Writer/Teacher MA from Goldsmiths, University of London. Dean is a Tutor for Arvon and Poetry School and a Writer in Residence for First Story. His debut novel, The Black Flamingo, will be published in August 2019 by Hodder Children’s Books.

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