In 2005, 13-year-old Jade LB began work on a story documenting the misadventures of a fictional London teenager named Keisha, posting chapters on the now-defunct blogging site Piczo. Her story went viral, and has been hailed since as a landmark in Black British literature. Fast-forward 16 years and LB (retaining her anonymity) returned to her story, publishing the original blog entries in a book alongside a revised version, which she called Keisha Revisited.
A gritty portrait of teenage desire and abuse written in dialect, the original version – or “the OG” – opens with Keisha going to her friend Shanice’s house and hooking up with Shanice’s brother, Ricardo. The following day, she visits another lover, Ramel. When she accidentally shouts Ricardo’s name during sex, Ramel accuses her of being a prostitute, after which “ma eyes caught a shank. I quickly picked it up an dashed it at him an ran out of da room dwn da stairz.” Things get worse for Keisha as she is taunted about her sexual history by a street gang who later subject her to a brutal assault.
Tailor-made for audio, the OG is read by the rapper and musician Nadia Rose, who expertly captures Keisha’s youthful energy and insouciance. Taz Munya narrates the revised version, which adds flesh to the bones of Keisha’s story, depicting a troubled relationship with her mother. Elsewhere, contributors including Candice Carty-Williams and Enny read essays in which they describe the impact of reading about Keisha in their teens, while LB reads her author’s note in which she reflects on female sexuality, Keisha’s internalised “misogynoir” and her complex relationship with her creation.
• Keisha the Sket is available via Penguin Audio, 8hr 6min
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