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Anita and Me is Meera Syal's debut novel, and was first published in 1996. It is a semi-autobiographical novel which has won the Betty Trask Award.

The story revolves around Meena, an English Punjabi girl (the "me" of the title), and her relationship with the white Anita as they grow up in the fictional Midlandsmarker village of Tollington in the 1970s.

It is used as a GCSE set text for an English literature examination provided by the WJEC.

Film

The novel was made into a film of the same name in 2002, in which Meera Syal appears as Meena's Auntie Shaila. Syal also wrote the screenplay for the film. The film starred Chandeep Uppal and Anna Brewster.The story follows young Meena Kumar, a girl who would be considered very normal by today's standards, and the life she lives with her parents in Tollington, near Birmingham. One seemingly ordinary day, her life is turned upside down by Anita Rutter, played by Anna Brewster. Meena is a brilliant character, with a wise head on young shoulders but one who retains a childlike exuberance. An aspiring writer, Meena pines for some of the breaks that white kids managed to get; upon patronisingly being asked "what do you want to be when you grow up", Meena replies "blonde". Anita & Me is filled with witty lines like this throughout.

Secondary literature

  • Rocío G. Davis, "India in Britain: Myths of Childhood in Meera Syal's Anita and Me", in Fernando Galván & Mercedes Bengoechea (ed.), On Writing (and) Race in Contemporary Britain, Universidad de Alcalá 1999, 139-46.
  • Graeme Dunphy, "Meena's Mockingbird: From Harper Lee to Meera Syal", in Neophilologus 88, 2004, 637-59.


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