Bluebird has won a 14-way auction for actor David Harewood's “landmark” memoir on how racism impacts mental health.
Publisher Carole Tonkinson acquired UK and Commonwealth rights to Maybe I Don't Belong Here from Natalie Jerome at Aevitas Creative Management UK. The book will be published in September 2021.
Harewood's book follows his critically acclaimed BBC documentary “Psychosis and Me” in which he embarked on a journey through his memories and to the places where he grew up, trying to understand what led to the psychotic breakdown he experienced as a young man 30 years ago. The crisis took place just two years after he started drama school in London and led to him being sectioned under the Mental Health Act.
Bluebird explained: “It was only when filming the documentary and beginning to write this book that David started to understand the immense pain and confusion he had buried inside him since childhood. This pain was born out of his desperate desire to belong and how as a black, British man he had to struggle for acceptance in a society that repeatedly rejected him. We know that black British men are 10 times more likely to suffer psychosis and four times more likely to be sectioned than the rest of the population. By writing this book, David shines a much needed light on links between systemic racism and black mental health and explores what is needed to redress this devastating imbalance.”
Harewood, a British actor who has starred in hit US dramas such as “Homeland” and “Supergirl”, said: “My BBC documentary made me realise that I had a lot more work to do unravelling the complexities of my breakdown of 30 years ago. Now, inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, I feel encouraged to look back on my life and career with fresh eyes and I couldn’t be more excited to be working with Carole and the fantastic team at Bluebird and to discover some answers to the question of the impact of race and racism on black mental health in my book.
"It’s time to tell it like it is. I hope in doing so that my story will help many people and shed an important and overdue light on the black experience in Britain today.”
Tonkinson added: “When Natalie initially mentioned this proposal to me, I was immediately interested. I was a huge admirer of David’s documentary and I expected to love the text but I was completely unprepared for the beauty, depth and fearlessness of the writing itself. David is a naturally gifted storyteller. His text is vivid and intimate and he seems to bring his actor’s gifts (embodying his experience as a very young child and young man and now as a father) and offers an unparalleled window into the profound experience of the damage racism can do to mental health. We feel very privileged to be working with David and Natalie on this important, landmark book.”
Jerome said: "David’s story is one I’ve waited years for someone to be in a position to tell. It’s an immense privilege to be working with him and the exceptional team at Bluebird led by the brilliant Carole Tonkinson. David describes the rupture in black, British identity in such a powerful, evocative way that draws to mind greats such as Ralph Ellison. I have no doubt that his book will have a lasting and galvanising impact."
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