Canongate will publish designer Osman Yousefzada’s memoir The Go-Between, about growing up in a tight-knit Pashtun community in Birmingham and discovering design.
Senior commissioning editor at Canongate Hannah Knowles has acquired world all language rights from Clare Conville at Curtis Brown for the memoir of British womenswear designer Osman Yousefzada.
The Go-Between is described by the publisher as a “compelling and revealing story of growing up between diverse immigrant communities in Birmingham in the 1980s-90s”.
Yousefzada’s father was a carpenter, and his mother, to help make ends meet, took up sewing and became a seamstress. Women from Indian-East African, Irish, Shia, East-European Jewish, Afghan and Pakistani communities came together in the Yousefzada household to have clothes made and mended by his mother. Yousefzada learned the craft from her and “became enraptured by what was deemed a woman’s job”.
“Whether secretly bringing his sisters books and magazines from the local library, lusting after forbidden jelly in the local shop, or chatting to the area’s prostitutes, Osman quietly trod an unconventional path, weaving in and out of different spheres,” Canongate said. “But no one can be a go-between forever, and Osman’s is a story of finding your own way, even if it means turning your back on the world you know.”
After growing up in Birmingham, Yousefzada studied South Asian Studies and Anthropology at SOAS, and fashion at Central Saint Martins, before doing a Masters at Cambridge. He has been nominated for a number of awards and curates an annual collaborative journal, the Collective, featuring artists, writers and other creatives. The Osman clothing line is sold internationally, and is worn by high profile actors and singers such as Beyonce, Thandie and Emma Watson.
Yousefzada said: "The Go Between is my story of growing up in inner city Birmingham against a backdrop of its gradual de-industrialisation, told through a series of vignettes; a cluster of flashbacks set amidst disparate migrant communities, in particular my own tight-knit Pashtun community. It is the story of my youth, but also perhaps a more universal story of otherness and belonging.”
Knowles said of the deal: “Osman’s writing has all the engaging warmth and observational acuity of the man himself, and in The Go-Between, he weaves a tale that is at once unique, while also very much of our times.”