Malorie Blackman Talks To Kingsley Nebechi About Noughts & Crosses

The BBC adaptation of Malorie Blackman's Noughts & Crosses made one hell of an impact when it hit the airwaves last year – as the book series has been doing for kids for two decades. The US release was pretty much hidden on NBC's Peacock streaming service, but it is getting out there, slowly.

Set in a reversed world in which Africa had colonised Europe, and the social and racial expectations and normalities are reversed, the original book focused on the characters as school-aged teenagers while the TV series brought them forward a few years.

But it's that original take that The Folio Society has chosen to highlight in a new edition of the first Noughts & Crosses volume, with an introduction by acclaimed poet Benjamin Zephaniah and illustrated throughout by Kingsley Nebechi in a new volume out now.

Malorie Blackman Talks To Kingsley Nebechi - Noughts And Crosses
Illustration © Kingsley Nebechi 2021 from The Folio Society edition of Noughts & Crosses

We have a video of Kingsley Nebechi talking through the project with Malorie Blackman.

In Zephaniah's introduction for The Folio Society edition, he writes:

I once said that Noughts and Crosses was the most original book I'd ever read. I'm not sure when I said that but it was a long time ago, and since then I've read many more books, yet that statement is still true.

Malorie Blackman Talks To Kingsley Nebechi - Noughts And Crosses
Illustration © Kingsley Nebechi 2021 from The Folio Society edition of Noughts & Crosses

Thought-provoking and compelling, Noughts & Crosses takes the timeless premise of forbidden love and sets it in Albion, a segregated society where light-skinned noughts are suppressed by the ruling black Crosses. When Sephy, the Cross daughter of a government official falls in love with her nought housekeeper's son, Callum, the power of love and the optimism of youth are put to the ultimate test.

Malorie Blackman Talks To Kingsley Nebechi - Noughts And Crosses
Illustration © Kingsley Nebechi 2021 from The Folio Society edition of Noughts & Crosses

Former Children's Laureate Malorie Blackman's best-selling alternative history has earned cult status among young-adult readers, while its recent release as a major BBC series has further increased its popular appreciation.

Malorie Blackman Talks To Kingsley Nebechi - Noughts And Crosses
Illustration © Kingsley Nebechi 2021 from The Folio Society edition of Noughts & Crosses

This striking new The Folio Society edition is introduced by Benjamin Zephaniah, one of The Times 50 Greatest Post-war Poets, while London-based Nigerian artist Kingsley Nebechi illustrates the novel with 7 original full-colour works. His strong pictorial style perfectly matches our design vision and his startling illustrations reflect the challenges of the subject matter, while alluding to his passion for comic books and art styles from Africa.

Malorie Blackman Talks To Kingsley Nebechi About Noughts & Crosses
Noughts & Crosses – Malorie Blackman – Fiction/Modern

Blackman often tackles pertinent issues in her writing, and racism is at the heart of this searing alternative history. However, themes of terrorism, class, politics and relationships are all addressed too, seamlessly woven into a narrative that never feels overloaded. Above all, Noughts & Crosses is a brilliantly conceived, edgy thriller with genuine characters and a gripping plot that has won devoted admiration from discerning readers.

Malorie Blackman Talks To Kingsley Nebechi About Noughts & Crosses
Noughts & Crosses – Malorie Blackman – Fiction/Modern

The finished product is bound in printed and blocked textured paper, set in Galliard with Moonshot as display. 376 pages long, with 7 colour illustrations and printed endpapers, it is a blocked slipcase volume, measuring 9½ x 6¼ inches.

Malorie Blackman Talks To Kingsley Nebechi About Noughts & Crosses

The Folio Society edition of Malorie Blackman's Noughts & Crosses, introduced by Benjamin Zephaniah and illustrated by Kingsley Nebechi, is available exclusively from www.foliosociety.com

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About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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