I May Destroy You and Chewing Gum creator and actor Michaela Coel is writing her first book, titled Misfits: A Personal Manifesto.
To be published in the UK and US in September, the book will draw on topics covered in Coel’s MacTaggart lecture at the Edinburgh Festival in 2018. In her speech, which drew audible gasps from the audience, Coel spoke about the barriers and racism she had experienced as a young black woman working in the television industry, as well as her own sexual assault.
During the lecture, in which she frequently praised the creativity and persistence of people written off by others as misfits, she announced her own definition of the word: “The term misfits takes on dual notions; a misfit is one who looks at life differently. Many however, are made into misfits because life looks at them differently; the UK’s black, Asian, and ginger communities for example … The term can be cross-generational and crosses concepts of gender or culture, simply by a desire for transparency, a desire to see another’s point of view. Misfits who visibly fit in will sometimes find themselves merging with the mainstream, for a feeling of safety.
“Of late, channels, production companies, and online streaming services have found themselves scrabbling for misfits like kids in a playground scrabbling for sweets – desperate for a chew, not sure of the taste of these sweets, these dreams, just aware they might be very profitable,” she added. “Is it important that voices used to interruption get the experience of writing something without interference at least once?”
Coel’s book has been acquired by UK publisher Ebury and Henry Holt in the US, in a deal negotiated with her agents.
Ebury said that in the book, she “makes a compelling case for radical honesty”. It will be “a rousing and bold case against fitting in”, the publisher added, and “a powerful manifesto on how speaking your truth and owning your differences can transform your life”.
Announcing the book on Monday, Marianne Tatepo, Ebury commissioning editor, said: “Ever since I first watched Chewing Gum, I knew that Michaela was one of a kind.” She described Misfits as “draw[ing] on the same kaleidoscope of ideas and emotions as her hit TV shows, and will inspire readers to reflect on their own relationship to power.”