Yassine Belkacemi Personal Essay

Despite being born on the West of Scotland, I spent my early childhood in a small town in Algeria. Bookstores and public libraries were not plentiful, to say the least, so my early reading experiences were limited, and I was to be found poring over and rereading the same French editions of Asterix, Tintin and Babar. I never grew weary of having to read the same stories and days were fruitfully spent either riding my bike or exploring these literary universes.  Moving back to Scotland at the age of five, my local public library had a feast of new books and exotic worlds that demanded to be explored and so I just kept on reading and reading and reading.

Coming from a family of teachers and having had a somewhat nomadic upbringing, I have always been curious to learn about and research new countries and far-off lands. Therefore, at university I went to study American literature and history, and became immersed in a nation with a plethora of identities, cultures and narratives and of course great authors. Quickly, I was devouring book after book and whether it was about the Wild West, the Jazz Age, or sleepy suburban life, I always had a thirst for discovering new stories.

Since I began reading I have always been drawn to captivating storytelling that reveals tales that demand our attention, that illuminate corners of society and possess characters that inform, touch, entertain and enrich us all. The publishing industry will hopefully allow me to help to bring such stories and subjects to a wider audience, and keep us all reading and reading and reading.