Review: Bess - Now That I Have Found the Words

By Stephanie Braithwaite

“Diversity is often used as a marketing tool.”

On Friday evening, despite being in lecture halls all week, over 30 university students packed into the University of Liverpool’s Student Guild to listen to Rose Thomas introduce her debut novel Bess. There were faint sounds of music and laughter from the Guild’s nearby bar, but inside the Gilmour Room the young audience listened intently to Rose read a sample of her writing, and share her inspiring story of becoming the first Liverpool-born black female novelist to ever be published.

A 30-minute lecture from  Dr Meleisa Ono-George (University of Warwick) onDiversity and the Fictions of a "Decolonized" Institution’ helped to contextualise Rose’s novel, and also remind the audience how structural racism can be in our institutions. The event concluded with an audience Q&A led by Esther Bukoye (Vice President of the Guild), and the audience were left with one particularly strong image in their minds as Rose told them seriously: “I used to go into shops at Christmas and ask the assistant where the black fairies were for the top of the tree, knowing full well they didn’t have any. We must start the conversations ourselves – in the everyday.”