MP David Lammy will explore tribalism and the questions of belonging in a "fascinating and perceptive analysis", that will be published Constable following a four-way auction.
Inspired by the bicentenary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act and looking to explore his own African roots, Lammy took a DNA test in 2007. His nucleic acids revealed that the Tottenham MP was 25% Tuareg tribe (Niger), 25% Temne tribe (Sierra Leone), 25% Bantu tribe (South Africa), with 5% traces of Celtic Scotland and a mishmash of other unidentified groups.
Part memoir, part call-to-arms, Tribes explores how reading his DNA results led Lammy to rethink what it meant to need to belong to a tribe. "How this need – genetically programmed and socially acquired – can manifest itself in positive ways, collaboratively achieving great things that individuals alone cannot. And yet how, in recent years, globalisation and digitisation have led to new, more pernicious kinds of tribalism," said Constable.
Lammy said: "At this time of unprecedented polarisation both within and beyond politics, I am excited to be writing a book which confronts the questions of belonging which lie behind it. With the global resurgence of a toxic ethnic nationalism on the right, and exclusionary politics on the far left, the early 2020s will be a crucial turning point in this century. By starting with an honest look at the tribes of which I am personally a member, I explore both the good and the bad of tribalism, before asking how different groups – within towns, countries and beyond – can come together."
Andreas Campomar, non-fiction publisher for the Little, Brown imprint, bought UK and Commonwealth rights to Tribes for a five-figure sum, from Andrew Gordon at David Higham Associates. Tribes will be published on 10th October 2019 as a hardback and eBook.
Campomar added: "David’s book is a timely one: a fascinating and perceptive analysis of not only the way the world works but also the way we are. Moreover, it will demonstrate how we can channel our need to belong into inclusive civic identities that work across classes, ethnicities and geographical boundaries."
Born in London to Guyanese parents, Lammy has served as the MP for Tottenham since 2000. He was the first black Briton to study at Harvard Law School and before entering politics practised as a barrister. He served as a minister under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown and his first book, Out of the Ashes: Britain after the Riots, was published by Cornerstone in 2011.