The British-Nigerian author Lanre Bakare is set to publish his debut book. Titled We Were There: The Untold Black British Stories That Shaped Our Country, the book looks at the impact of Black British people on the country.

The Bookseller reports that the rights to the novel were snapped up by the London-based independent publishing house The Bodley Head from Bakare’s agent Matt Turner. The book is scheduled for publication in 2024.

Lanre Bakare was born in Bradford, West Yorkshire. His is known for his work as an arts and culture correspondent for The Guardian where he has written extensively on “the intersection of art, race and culture across multiple disciplines.” His writing includes profiles of celebrities such as Benicio Del Toro, Erykah Badu, Angela Davis. He co-wrote British basketball player Ovie Soko’s motivational book You Are Dope. 

Bakare revealed that We Were There came out of an article he had written for The Guardian “about the brilliance of Steve McQueen’s “Small Axe” and the dearth of similar projects that show Blackness outside London.” The book will give him the space to write about issues close to his heart, like addressing what “it truly means to be Black and British – using the art that was created during one of the most restive times in the modern era as the entry point.”

Stuart Williams, publishing director at The Bodley Head, notes the significance of a book that explores the complexities of collective identities through the lens of politics and art.

We Were There is a powerful, original and simple idea, like all the best ones. But that simplicity reveals a rich, layered story about creativity and activism and politics. Here’s a landmark book that will deliver a reckoning with our country’s past at home, and which shows Black British life to be more complex and plural than we’ve been led to believe. We’re very proud to welcome Lanre to the list.

The book has clearly grown out of Bakare’s extensive and influential work as a culture critic. It promises to be illuminating.

Congratulations to Lanre Bakare.


Photo by Jodine Williams via RCW