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Jubilee Hardcover – 29 Dec 2011

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: W&N (29 Dec. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0297864580
  • ISBN-13: 978-0297864585
  • Product Dimensions: 13.4 x 3 x 21.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 393,490 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Shelley Harris was born in South Africa, emigrating to Britain at the age of six because of her parents' opposition to Apartheid. She has been a local journalist, a teacher, a filler of envelopes, an assistant in a wine shop and a bouncer at teenage discos. She lived in Paris for a year, on the sixth floor of a skinny townhouse, in the smallest flat she's ever seen.

Her first novel, 'Jubilee', is about an iconic photograph taken at a Silver Jubilee street party in 1977, about the boy at the centre of that photograph, and about the secrets he has kept hidden for thirty years.

When she's not writing she volunteers at her local Oxfam bookshop, where she loves helping customers find just the right book.

Photograph by Cath Harries.

Product Description


This is an exceptional, arresting novel which, by shifting skilfully from past to present with ever-increasing tension, highlights the traumatic effects of racism experienced in childhood, and addiction to prescription drugs in the medical profession... The book penetrates beyond the familiar arguments of political correctness to a darker world that needs to be drawn to the light. It makes you aware of how much things have changed in Britain since the last Jubilee, and how far we have travelled in our pursuit of a greater tolerance. (Clare Morrall, author of Astonishing Splashes of Colour and The Man Who Disappeared)

Jubilee is an assured debut by a writer of great promise. It's a sharply-written account of the birth pangs of multicultural Britain (Marcel Theroux)

The South African-born Harris came to Britain with her family in the 1970s and shows an acute understanding of how it feels to be an outsider...a welcome discovery - a new novelist whose next book you are already impatient to read (THE GUARDIAN)

Shelley Harris's remarkably assured debut novel is rooted in the Silver Jubilee celebrations of June 1977...shrewdly observed...The pitch-perfect children's banter and accurate period detail lead authenticity to her prose...an exciting debut that suggests this author will offer many more insightful and compelling stories in the years ahead (James Urquhart THE INDEPENDENT)

Boldly plotted and confidently executed, its momentum maintained to the end (DAILY MAIL)

Recreating an iconic photograph of a village street party celebrating the 1977 Jubilee stirs up buried memories, forcing the one Asian boy in the picture to confront himself and his past. Nostalgic and moving (WOMAN & HOME)

IN A NUTSHELL: A sinister secret is dragged into the spotlight after 30 years. PLOT: It's the Queen's Jubilee, 1977, and a photographer snaps an Asian boy at a street party. The photo becomes iconic, and years later the boy is asked to reenact it. Satish, now a successful cardiologist, refuses, but won't say why. Questions are asked and a secret he's kept all those years threatens to ruin his life. WHY READ IT?: Apart from reliving the days of punk and platforms, the suspense simply builds and builds (ESSENTIALS)

The genius of this novel is in the gentle way that the mysteries of the narrative unfold, fully immersing you in the story so that the twists and turns really do take you by surprise in a thoroughly refreshing way... Harris is a truthful writer, and does not shy away from representing the most deplorable sides of human nature. As a troubled and flawed anti-hero, Satish is all the more likeable and relatable to the everyman, and will have the reader laughing with joy and crying out with anguish as he attempts to confront his demons. [The novel] has a heart and soul, a strong moral - yet it never feels didactic, and deep down it fills you with a joyous sense of delight and satisfaction with every turn of the page (WE LOVE THIS BOOK)

Photographs capture a moment, but it is what went on before and after that drives this story. Satish becomes the symbol of an evolving nation when he is snapped at a Silver Jubliee party; but the damage done shapes him 30 years on as he struggles to maintain his family life (SAINSBURY'S MAGAZINE)

Cardiologist Satish is settled with a family. But he is terrified of revisiting the past when a project is launched to reunite the subjects of a 1977 Silver Jubilee street party photo, of which Satish was the star. Racism, childhood relationships and hidden secrets are explored in Shelley Harris' debut novel (STAR magazine)

Shelley Harris's accomplished debut novel Jubilee follows the lasting effect of events at a 1977 Silver Jubilee street party (CHOICE magazine)

Set during the Silver Jubilee of 1977, with scenes from the hero's later life, this deft and moving debut offers more than Seventies nostalgia. A conflict-ridden street party proves a turning point for young Satish, from a family of Ugandan Asian refugees - and for his new community ('i' newspaper)

Book Description

A heartwarming and nostalgic novel set during a street party for the Queen's Silver Jubilee in 1977.

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
Here, in one of Britain's colonial outposts, generally speaking the Queen is a popular figure head. But because she is so far away, and so remote, and so invisible to us, anything to do with celebrating who she is and what she represents has very little impact. Apart from a long weekend to mark her birthday. Her jubilees too - 25th, 50th, Diamond - come and go here, the average citizen barely noticing. But in the UK of course, completely different story. A jubilee is an event, something to plan for and anticipate, a celebration - let' s have a party!

In 1977, Satish Patel is 11. His family have been living in the town of Bourne Heath for a few years, having fled Uganda when Idi Amin took control in 1972, as did many other Indians. He doesn't look English, he doesn't feel English, the food his mother cooks is not English, he has had to learn how to be English. The school playground has been his training and battle ground, and this spills over into the street where he lives with the other children who live there - all English, naturally. The jubilee is being celebrated by a street party, lots of food, bunting, trestle tables, new clothes and excitement. A photo is captured of the day by an unknown photographer, with Satish right in the fore front of the photo. Seen as the symbol of the new multi cultural Britian, the photo is picked up by a newspaper, immediately becomes famous, as does its photographer. Over the years, the photo pops up on advertising, as the album cover for a famous band - much like the Sex Pistols. It becomes infamous.

A photo however does not reveal what is going on immediately before being snapped, or immediately after. Certain events happen on that day to Satish, the scars of which he always carries with him.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Denise4891 TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 5 Jun. 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Jubilee centres around a snapshot taken during a street party to celebrate the Queen's Silver Jubilee in 1977. The photograph becomes iconic, firstly because it features a small Asian boy and is held up as an example of multicultural Britain, and later when a punk bank use a pastiche of the photo on their album cover.

30 years later the photographer wants to recreate the moment with the original `cast' but gets mixed reactions from those involved, not all of whom want to remember the events of that turbulent day. The Asian boy, Satish, is now a successful consultant paediatric cardiologist and a happily married father of two. However, beneath the surface he is wrestling with demons of his own, and the thought of dredging up unhappy memories from his childhood does not appeal. Satish's family had fled to the UK from Uganda in the early 70s and at the time of the Jubilee were still struggling to establish themselves as British citizens. Their integration into the quiet Buckinghamshire street where the party takes place has not always been smooth, so tempers fray and hidden prejudices come to the fore as the residents of Cherry Gardens prepare for the big day.

The tension builds slowly and the pace overall is fairly sedate, with just one or two flashes of violence. Shelley Harris, who herself came to Britain as a child in the 70s, has successfully recreated a sense of time and place, and whilst there's a pleasing amount of retro detail, she has thankfully managed to resist laying on the nostalgic references with a trowel (which must be tempting with this sort of book). The novel is not about the Jubilee itself, but more about the subsequent lives of this disparate group of people who came together on 7th June 1977 to celebrate it. I found it a very interesting and perceptive debut novel.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Jubilee was a very entertaining read. I didn't check reviews before finishing the book, but I do agree that it could be a little difficult to become emotionally involved with Satish - more like watching with interest from the sidelines. The key issues of the plot were thought-provoking, especially getting to understand better what children like Satish would have had to cope with at that time from all generations of established white families. As the story alternated between 'then and now', occasionally I would begin a chapter and not be sure of the setting for a couple of paragraphs. At the same time it's no mean feat to skilfully dovetail two time frames, and this was really well done. I might have liked to get to know Satish's children a little better, with maybe an occasional illustration of how far our society has come in terms of happy integration, and Satish's reaction to that. So I 'do' care! Anyway, Jubilee is a very good read, and well recommended. I look forward to Shelley's next book, Vigilante, due out next year.
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Format: Paperback
It's Jubilee Day 1977 & Satish & his street are holding a party to celebrate. A local newspaper photographer captures the moment & the photo becomes a part of the day. Now, 30 years on, the photographer wants to hold a reunion & recreate the famous shot but secrets from Satish's past & issues in his present leave him questioning whether or not to take part.
I really enjoyed the lashings of nostalgia in the 1977 portions of the book - having grown up in a similar street full of children from my school I could make connections with this part & found it spot on. However, I didn't really connect with the grown up Satish et al & when the final reveal of his big secret came I was a bit "Is that it?" I kept expecting it to develop further but it never did. The ending coming when it did was a disappointment & I would have liked more on the incident as opposed to the build-up of the day.
Saying that, it's an easy summer/beach read & good for a trip down memory lane.
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