Minty Alley, by C.L.R. James

'As he walked home he looked up at the myriads of stars, shining in the moonlight. Did people live there? And if they did, what sort of life did they live?'

It is the 1920s in the Trinidadian capital, and Haynes' world has been upended. His mother has passed away, and his carefully mapped-out future of gleaming opportunity has disappeared with her. Unable to afford his former life, he finds himself moving into Minty Alley - a bustling barrack yard teeming with energy and a spectacular cast of characters. In this sliver of West Indian working-class society, outrageous love affairs and passionate arguments are a daily fixture, and Haynes begins to slip from curious observer to the heart of the action.

Minty Alley is a gloriously observed portrayal of class, community and the ways in which we are all inherently connected. An undisputed modern classic, this is an exceptional story told by one of the twentieth century's greatest Caribbean thinkers.

The book is part of a new series, Black Britain Writing Back, curated by author Bernardine Evaristo and made up of six lost and hard-to-find books by Black writers.

Resources

Age: Key Stage 4

Subject: English Language

Fiction Text: Minty Alley

Author: C. L. R. James

The four activities in this Minty Alley resource pack give KS4 students opportunities to engage with an unseen fiction text. They include activities for comprehension and critical analysis, structuring ideas and looking for descriptive and narrative techniques, using evidence. A practice GCSE English Language exam paper is also included, using an extract from the book. The resource pack can be downloaded below.

The activities in the resource pack are designed to be used alongside the videos of author and curator of the Black Britain Writing Back series, Bernardine Evaristo, who reads aloud the extract and also talks briefly about the book to provide context.

The resources can be used as standalone activities, or used consecutively over the course of a lesson (approx. 1 hour 30 mins in total.)

  • Minty Alley

    Black Britain: Writing Back

  • The only novel from the world-renowned writer C.L.R. James - this extraordinary, big-hearted exploration of class was the first novel by a black West Indian to be published in the UK

    'A novel written nearly a hundred years ago that brings the past alive with such charm, vitality and humour.' Bernardine Evaristo, from the Introduction



    'As he walked home he looked up at the myriads of stars, shining in the moonlight. Did people live there? And if they did, what sort of life did they live?'

    It is the 1920s in the Trinidadian capital, and Haynes' world has been upended. His mother has passed away, and his carefully mapped-out future of gleaming opportunity has disappeared with her.

    Unable to afford his former life, he finds himself moving into Minty Alley - a bustling barrack yard teeming with energy and a spectacular cast of characters. In this sliver of West Indian working-class society, outrageous love affairs and passionate arguments are a daily fixture, and Haynes begins to slip from curious observer to the heart of the action.

    Minty Alley is a gloriously observed portrayal of class, community and the ways in which we are all inherently connected. An undisputed modern classic, this is an exceptional story told by one of the twentieth century's greatest Caribbean thinkers.



    Selected by Booker Prize-winning author Bernardine Evaristo, this series rediscovers and celebrates pioneering books depicting black Britain that remap the nation.

  • Buy the book

What's included in the resource pack?

  • Bernardine Evaristo context (video) 
  • Bernardine Evaristo extract reading (video)
  • Activities powerpoint  (aimed towards younger KS4 students)
  • Text extract (pdf)
  • Mock exam paper questions (aimed towards older KS4 students)
  • Activity pack for exam technique (powerpoint)


    How to use the pack
  • Get your students to watch the videos below with the author, before completing the corresponding activities and giving the students a copy of the text extract.
  • Some of the activities aimed at younger students, specifically Activity 2 and 3, will require students to have a copy of the text extract to work from.
  • Activity 1 and 4 could be carried out by just listening to author Avni Doshi reading the extract. The activity pack for exam technique is designed for older students to engage with prior to attempting the mock exam questions.   

Register your interest in receiving a free class set of the book

Email us at litincolour@penguinrandomhouse.co.uk with the name of your school, delivery address, number of students in the class and if you'd prefer physical copies or audiobook download codes. We'll see what we can do!

Context

Author Bernardine Evaristo discusses her Black Britain: Writing Back series and the importance of Minty Alley today. Watch time: 2.39 minutes.

Extract reading

Bernardine Evaristo reads from Minty Alley by C.L.R. James. Watch time: 5:13 minutes.

Further reading

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