Being Black N Chicken And Chips By Matt Okine: Book's Review and Summary

Being Black 'n Chicken, and Chips by Matt Okine ·

Exploring Matt Okine’s Being Black ‘n Chicken, and Chips: A Critical Analysis

Matt Okine’s Being Black ‘n Chicken, and Chips is a novel that tells the story of Mike Amon, a young man who navigates life as a comedian, a biracial Australian, and a son in a single-parent household. Okine’s writing style is poignant and evokes empathy from the reader, while also deftly tackling themes of identity, grief, racism, and familial bonds.

In this article, we will be delving into the main themes and ideas presented by Okine in his novel, as well as critically evaluating his writing style and how effectively he conveyed his message.

Main themes

Throughout Being Black ‘n Chicken, and Chips, Okine explores themes of identity and how it is shaped by race, family, and social interactions. Mike Amon, the protagonist, is a biracial comic who is grappling with questions of how to define himself – is he black or is he white? Is he chicken, as in scared, or is he chips, meaning strong and confident?

Okine also addresses the lasting impact of grief on the human psyche. Mike must navigate the absence of his mother, who died when he was a child, and the toll it takes on his family. Through this exploration, readers are able to delve into the different ways people cope with grief and loss, while also confronting the pervasive anxiety and depression that can result.

Another important theme addressed in the novel is the insidious nature of racism in Australia. Through Mike’s interactions with other characters, it becomes clear that even supposedly “innocuous” comments and actions have the power to inflict deep hurt and perpetuate systemic racism. Okine deftly examines how racism can thrive even in seemingly progressive societies, and highlights the importance of conversations around racism and racial identity.

Critical evaluation of writing style

Okine’s writing style in Being Black ‘n Chicken, and Chips is evocative and powerful, often switching between densely packed paragraphs and more sparse, elegant prose. The narrative is strongly character-driven, with Mike’s perspective guiding the reader through the novel’s various events and inciting action.

One strength of Okine’s writing is his unflinching honesty about the difficult topics he tackles. Characters grapple with mental health struggles, familial conflict, and the ever-present specter of racism, and Okine refuses to sugarcoat or gloss over any of it. This makes the moments of genuine connection between characters all the more meaningful and emotionally resonant, and serves to underline the importance of building bonds with others.

However, one weakness of the novel is an occasional lack of narrative momentum. While Mike’s perspective is engaging and well-crafted, there are moments where the plot feels stagnant or meandering. This can make the overall reading experience slower-paced than some readers may prefer, but it is a minor quibble in the face of the novel’s larger goals.

Comparison to other works

Being Black ‘n Chicken, and Chips is a unique entry into Australian literature, both because of the biracial identity of its protagonist and the raw emotional honesty of its writing. However, it is worth noting that it shares some thematic elements with other works in the same genre.

The themes of identity and grappling with grief will be familiar to readers of books like Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman or The Dutch House by Ann Patchett. However, Okine’s novel adds a uniquely Australian perspective, one that grapples specifically with issues of race and racism in a way that may not be as common in other novels.

Overall impression and recommendation

Overall, Being Black ‘n Chicken, and Chips is a powerful work of Australian literature that tackles difficult themes with grace and nuance. While it may not be the fastest-paced novel on the market, its emotional impact cannot be denied. Readers who enjoy character-driven narratives that deal with complex issues will likely find much to appreciate in Matt Okine’s novel.

We highly recommend giving it a read, and suggest that readers come to the novel with patience and an open mind in order to fully engage with its themes and ideas.


Q: What is the genre of the book?

A: Being Black ‘n Chicken, and Chips is a work of contemporary Australian fiction.

Q: Is the book suitable for all ages?

A: The book does touch on mature themes like grief and mental health struggles, so parents should exercise discretion when recommending it to younger readers.

Q: Does the book have a sequel?

A: As of this writing, there is no sequel to Being Black ‘n Chicken, and Chips.

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