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Keisha the Sket
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#Merky Books is reviving the noughties viral classic ‘Keisha the Sket’

The coming of age story that went viral by mobile back in 2005 is being turned into a book, a touchstone of Black British culture

You know you’re a noughties kid if you lied about your age to get onto Facebook, Gwen Stefani taught you how to spell bananas, Hilary Duff was the eternal protagonist of your childhood, and Keisha the Sket was the literary sensation on your phone that you bluetoothed chapters to with your friends.  

Keisha the Sket was a story written by Jade LB, who began releasing chapters online in 2005 when she was 13-years-old. The serialised online novel was shared and consumed across the Sony Ericssons and Blackberrys of our teenage years, and became a touchstone of Black British culture. Now, it’s being revalorised in print for the first time under Stormzy’s award-winning publishing imprint, #Merky Books.

While the white-washed postcolonial curriculum of school promises the tired texts of Macbeth and Lord of the Flies, Keisha the Sket rapidly became the serialised online literature favoured by school kids. Maybe the British answer to Gossip Girl, the seminal text made its way from phone to phone, conceived by Jade LB on Piczo.

The story follows the heroine Keisha, and a synopsis describes her as “a girl from the ends, (who is) sharp, feisty, and ambitious; she's been labelled 'top sket' but she’s making it work.” The storyline is outlined as: “When childhood crush and long-time admirer, Ricardo, finally wins her over, Keisha has it all: power, a love life and the chance for stability. But trauma comes knocking and with it a whirlwind of choices that will define what kind of a woman she truly wants to be.”

Jade LB is a London-based creative and academic writer whose work explores Black women and their experiences and the Black British working-class, while also co-hosting the Echo Chamber podcast and writing for Black Ballad. In a statement released to press, she said: “There isn’t anything that could’ve prepped me for this very emotional and highly political revisiting of Keisha and my teenage self. I’m indescribably grateful to the team of women that journeyed with me to see this project to fruition. Big up the waviest contributors ever – I’m honoured. This re-offering is for Us Lot – we know who we are.” 

Almost 16 years after the original Keisha the Sket saga, the book will also feature essays from various Black British writers. Candice Carty-Williams, best known for her 2019 debut novel, Queenie, has contributed an essay, as well as South London storyteller Aniefiok Ekpoudom, and the previous young people’s laureate for London, Caleb Femi

“Publishing Keisha the Sket is the most incredible full circle moment for me, because I can remember the first time Jade’s words came to my attention as a teenager,” said #Merky commissioning editor Lemara Lindsay-Prince. “It’s a story that has stayed with me because above everything it spoke loudly and truthfully to many of the realities of growing up around, or in ‘the ends’. The influence Keisha the Sket has on ‘the culture’ is evident, as well as many foundational pieces of British literature and popular culture today. I can’t wait for audiences – new and old – to meet Keisha and for Jade to receive the reverence she thoroughly deserves.’  

Keisha the Sket is set for release in October 2021. “Keisha da sket walked so 50 shades of grey could run,” shares the book’s Twitter page. We’ll wait patiently for the television adaptation.  

Last year, #Merky Books launched a new writers competition that aimed to uplift unpublished, underrepresented writers of colour aged between 16 and 30. Last week, Jyoti Patel was crowned the winner of its New Writers’ Prize 2021. Patel’s submission, Six of One is a coming-of-age story exploring what it means to be a person of colour in Britain today. She has now won a contract with #Merky Books to release her debut novel. Read back on our interview with Derek Owusu, whose debut novel That Reminds Me was the first novel out on Stormzy’s publishing imprint.