Sam Leith

Spectator Books: the struggles of the care system

Spectator Books: the struggles of the care system
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My guest on this week’s Books Podcast is the poet and playwright Lemn Sissay. Lemn’s new memoir My Name Is Why describes his early life — given up for fostering in the late 1960s as the son of an unmarried Ethiopian mother — and his progress, when his foster family gave him up, through the care system and out the other side.

It’s a powerfully affecting story, and Lemn joins me to fill in some of the gaps. How does he feel towards his foster parents now? Do the racism and institutional cruelty he experienced belong to a vanished age? And… what did Errol Brown need with an afro comb?