Zayn – the Autobiography: candid, moving, honest

Zayn by Zayn

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll probably know who Zayn is—or at least have heard of him once or twice. Normal British teenager turned pop-star overnight, becoming one of the five members of a massive boyband, touring all over the world, selling hundreds of millions of albums, topping charts, and then suddenly leaving, seemingly out of nowhere. When he left the band in March 2015, Zayn broke a ton of hearts (not mine–  I’d actually never even liked One Direction, but I thought he was both very attractive and the only talented one among the five). Many thought that they’d never get to hear him sing, but a year later, Zayn was #1 in 78 countries with his bestselling debut album. He’s now designing a fashion line with Donnatella Versace and Guiseppe Zannotti, is a producer for a TV show, and is also a bestselling author.

In Zayn, he tells his side of the story. Zayn’s often talked about how the media and his former management have projected an image on him that he doesn’t deserve. And it’s true—Zayn became known, out of nowhere, as the “bad boy” of the group, the mysterious, private, brooding brown kid who was so different to his bubbly bandmates. Sure, from the exterior, the stereotype can be applied. Covered in tattoos with an unkempt beard and a sharp buzzcut, Zayn walks around in heavy boots, leather jackets, cigarette dangling from his mouth. But his book provides a very different side to him. Strip back the layer that’s been presented to you, and a charming young boy comes to the forefront.

What have I learned about Zayn after reading this book? That he loves his mother more than anything in the world, and constantly talks about her. He loves to read and write—every lyric he pens down means something to him. He likes to eat samosas, and can cook. He calls himself a feminist and thinks the world would be a hell of a better place if we had more women in positions of power. He loves boxing, he loves cartoons and superheroes—and he’s literally just like any other young-adult boy on the streets, except that he has millions of fans—whom he acknowledges and thanks on every other page. This book isn’t just an autobiography; it’s a clarification, and it’s a well-formulated, honest defense written by someone who has been labelled and trashed for years and years, for no good reason.

A thing that drew me in about Zayn was that he doesn’t talk about other people. Not once does he trash or defame anyone—not his ex, not his bandmates, not even his management. He keeps it classy, talking about his issues with fame, the part he played in everything. He presents a candid look into his experiences with mental health and opens up about his anxiety, his ADHD and eating disorders. He had every reason to talk about his failed engagement and his broken friendships with the other members of One Direction, but he does not. This book is about him, and he makes sure that it’s never about anyone else. It’s about his life, his world, his past and what he hopes his future will be. It’s about his struggles with his faith, his Pakistani-English mixed race, about his experiences with bigotry and racism in the past. It’s about him.

This book is not just an autobiography; it’s a high-production, piece of art. Full of glossy, often full-page photos and hand-written notes, scans of his lyrics and doodles, Zayn is the perfect addition to any fan’s (or non-fan’s) collection. It’s a perfect coffee table book, written with sincerity and class. And though you may not care about him now, you’ll find him charming and endearing once you’ve finished reading.


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