Childhood on the Edge: Kit de Waal & Lemn Sissay
Date/Time: Sunday 5 February 2023 20:00-21:00
Session No: 239
What is it like to grow up in a dysfunctional environment, ignored, neglected and unloved? Instead of being diminished by such a dismal start to life, novelist Kit de Waal and poet Lemn Sissay both had the fire and determination to rise above their unpromising beginnings and blaze a light, thanks to the redemptive power of creativity.
Kit de Waal grew up in a household of opposites and extremes. Her haphazard mother rarely cooked, and had a religious fervour that made her believe the world would end in 1975. Her father splurged money that they didn’t have on luxury items for himself, whilst his children went hungry. Both were waiting for paradise – it never came. Kit’s memoir depicting her extraordinary childhood is Without Warning and Only Sometimes.
Lemn Sissay's powerful story is also one of neglect and determination, misfortune and hope, and ultimately triumph. After being placed into long-term foster care against his Ethiopian mother’s wishes, he experienced cold indifference from his ‘new’ white British family, where his buoyant nature was at odds with their repressed religious beliefs. He was returned to the cruelty of the care system, only discovering the lie which had snatched him from the heart of his birth family when he became an adult. Lemn’s quest for identity and belonging, after a childhood in the care system, is told in his powerful and moving memoir My Name is Why.
As you plan your day at the Festival, please take into consideration that it takes between 30-60 mins to commute between the Intercontinental, Festival City and Mohammed Bin Rashid Library.