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God's Other Children: A London Memoir by Paul Boateng

God's Other Children: A London Memoir by Paul Boateng

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Paul Boateng
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Book review

'Beautifully written' 'Devastatingly honest' 'A page turner' 'Great pics!' Celebrity surprises in this non-fiction text and picture book include, HRH Princess Diana, Whitney Houston, George Michael, Gloria Gaynor, Tina Turner, Dionne Warwick, and even a "shy" Milo Yiannopoulos. This is London life as never imagined. You will experience this exceptionally different book as if it's reading you. It's that powerful. Updated in late 2016, it has been referred to as the UK's 'Philadelphia' (the award-winning film starring Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington). As well as rave reader reviews, it has won recommendations by WH Smith and notables such as Peter Tatchell. The 600 pages represent perhaps the most intimate portrayal of people directly affected by HIV and AIDS ever written, and other wider 'human' issues. With 35 million infected and 30 million deaths worldwide, the author takes the reader to the frontline of the UK 1980s and 90s response to the crisis. The various personal accounts make heartbreaking reading, especially so when AIDS comes home... Vernal Scott writes: "A dignified death by the symptoms of old age was not to be our kind fate. Abandoned and alone in the fight of our lives, wider society, influenced by a vicious media, deemed us deserving of our suffering: our crippling fear; our unimaginable pain; our unyielding tears prompted by precious last goodbyes; our deaths. Our dashed hopes and dreams were destined to lie among the ashes of the cremation furnaces that would consume what AIDS had already destroyed. It was only yesterday that we were sweating up the dancefloor to I Feel Love and I Will Survive, and we had every reason to believe that we would do just that; survive and thrive. Our fleshless reflection in the bathroom mirror was confirmation that the good times had turned and a big disease with a little name was now playing Russian roulette with our lives. Swallowed up by clothes that no longer fit, it was now the survival of, not the fittest or most determined, but simply, it seemed, the luckiest. Stunned by the cruelty of our physical disintegration and the terror-inducing reality of an imminent death, AIDS had sabotaged our far too temporary rendezvous with happiness and the illusion of longevity of life that we assumed had been promised by our birth. When our mothers delivered us into the world, their tears of joy belied our pending fate and the fact that our eager infant eyes would mature only long enough to cry a tortured goodbye. AIDS would summon our mothers’ tears again; this time to moisten the soil that would bury us. Our deaths was splashed across the daily press as grotesque entertainment for the ignorant and heartless, who ridiculed us in our plight, but who would never, themselves, be capable of the extraordinary courage that it took to be a person living with AIDS." Having recently lost his Christian faith, in his controversial ‘New Atheist’ chapter 'The Circumcision of Religion', Vernal writes: "It is my view that sexual activity between consenting adults, of whatever sexuality, is no one else’s business. Our penises, vaginas, nipples, butts, ears, lips and every other erogenous zone exist to be enjoyed without guilt, shame, or fear. Only an odd god would spend his time looking down from heaven at what I do with my penis while millions of adults and children regularly die of war, terror, starvation, preventable disease, and natural disasters. That would be a very odd god, indeed! To continue to believe in god, despite life’s harsh reminders of his absence, would be to engage in a kind of spiritual masturbation; pleasuring oneself with fantasies of an imaginary supernatural lover, whose prowess can stimulate his indoctrinated believers, from the seamstress in Jamaica to the President of the United States, to an orgasmic “Hallelujah!” whilst remaining completely invisible to them." Hauntingly compelling, a different side of London awaits readers. You will forever be affected by it.


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