WINNER of the James Tait Black Prize 2021. WINNER of The Republic of Consciousness Prize 2021.
Lush and frothy, incisive and witty, Shola von Reinhold's decadent queer literary debut immerses readers in the pursuit of aesthetics and beauty, while interrogating the removal and obscurement of Black figures from history.
Solitary Mathilda has long been enamored with the 'Bright Young Things' of the 20s, and throughout her life, her attempts at reinvention have mirrored their extravagance and artfulness. After discovering a photograph of the forgotten Black modernist poet Hermia Druitt, who ran in the same circles as the Bright Young Things that she adores, Mathilda becomes transfixed and resolves to learn as much as she can about the mysterious figure. Her search brings her to a peculiar artists' residency in Dun, a small European town Hermia was known to have lived in during the 30s. The artists' residency throws her deeper into a lattice of secrets and secret societies that takes hold of her aesthetic imagination, but will she be able to break the thrall of her Transfixions?
From champagne theft and Black Modernisms, to art sabotage, alchemy and lotus-eating proto-luxury communist cults, Mathilda's journey through modes of aesthetic expression guides her to truth and the convoluted ways it is made and obscured.
Creatures of Passage
Longlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2022.
Nephthys Kinwell is a taxi driver of sorts in Washington, DC, ferrying ill-fated passengers in a haunted car: a 1967 Plymouth Belvedere with a ghost in the trunk. Endless rides and alcohol help her manage her grief over the death of her twin brother, Osiris, who was murdered and dumped in the Anacostia River.
Unknown to Nephthys when the novel opens in 1977, her estranged great-nephew, ten-year-old Dash, is finding himself drawn to the banks of that very same river. It is there that Dash-reeling from having witnessed an act of molestation at his school, but still questioning what and who he saw-has charmed conversations with a mysterious figure he calls the "River Man," who somehow appears each time he goes there.
When Dash arrives unexpectedly at Nephthys's door one day bearing a cryptic note about his unusual conversations with the River Man, Nephthys must face both the family she abandoned and what frightens her most when she looks in the mirror.
Creatures of Passage beautifully threads together the stories of Nephthys, Dash, and others both living and dead. Morowa Yejidé's deeply captivating novel shows us an unseen Washington, D.C., filled with otherworldly landscapes, flawed super-humans, and reluctant ghosts, and brings together a community intent on saving one young boy in order to reclaim themselves.
A young woman living in London, Ekuah loves deeply and loves hard, yet with each romantic encounter she is left feeling increasingly unmoored and adrift. She struggles in her love for Dee Emeka, a gifted musician, who is both passionate and distant in the way he loves her back. Confirming her worst fears about the unstable foundation of their relationship, he suddenly disappears from her life. Heartbroken, she is left to pick up the pieces, while searching for new validations and preoccupations from others.
But when, against a backdrop of enigmatic, poetic, nights in London, Venice, Accra and Paris, she finds an unexpected new love in the form of Jay Stanley, Ekuah re-focuses on her journey to meaningful love. She is determined to feel deeply again, but can she handle the vulnerability and forgiveness that comes with falling in love?
The Book of Harlan
"Simply miraculous... As her saga becomes ever more spellbinding, so does the reader's astonishment at the magic she creates. This is a story about the triumph of the human spirit over bigotry, intolerance and cruelty, and at the center of The Book of Harlan is the restorative force that is music." - Washington Post
Harlan and his best friend are invited to perform at a popular cabaret in the Parisian enclave of Montmartre, but after the City of Light falls under Nazi occupation, they are thrown into Buchenwald-the notorious concentration camp in Weimar, Germany-irreparably changing the course of Harlan's life.
Winner of the 2022 OCM Bocas Prize for Fiction.
Shortlisted for the Society of Authors' McKitterick Prize 2022.
Finalist of the 2022 Firecracker Award in Fiction.
Coconut trees. Carnival. Rum and coke. To many outsiders, these and other sunny images are all they know about life in the Caribbean. However, if you want to learn how the locals truly live and experience the dark and often harrowing truths that lurk behind the idyllic imagery of Caribbean culture, then come visit the town of Pleasantview.
Come during election season, and see how one candidate sets out to slaughter endangered turtles - just for fun. Or come on the day the other candidate beats his "outside-woman," so badly she ends up losing their baby. Then come on the night of the political rally, where this grieving woman exacts a very public revenge. Stay a while, and see how this single event has a trajectory far beyond the lives of the immediate actors, with often tragic and heartbreaking consequences.
Written in a remarkable combination of Standard English and Trinidad Creole, Pleasantview showcases the entrenched political, racial, and class dichotomies of life in Trinidad: the generosity (yet cruelty) of the average Trini; the sense of optimism (and yet, despair) which permeates everyday interaction; and the musicality of Caribbean creole (kriol) expression that masks an ingrained and frequently violent patriarchy.
Merging the vibrancy and darkness of recent Caribbean writers such as Ingrid Persaud and Claire Adam with the linguistic experimentation of Marlon James's A Brief History of Seven Killings, Pleasantview is a landmark work in international fiction.
If I Don't Have You
A captivating, sexy romance that explores the limits of love at first sight...
Afro-Brazilian filmmaker Ren is recovering from a romantic betrayal. Kayla is a Black British artist and journalist keen to make her mark. Thrown together during a string of interviews in New York for Ren's latest film, they're struck by an irresistible attraction. The two surrender to one night of searing honesty and passion, which leaves them with more questions than answers about the future. With secrets lurking between them, letting their romance continue could upend the separate lives Ren and Kayla have so carefully built. But can they really risk losing their miraculous connection?
A Book of Secrets
A Book of Secrets is the story of a woman named Susan Charlewood living in Elizabethan England. Born in what is now Ghana, Susan is enslaved by the Portuguese but later rescued by British sailors, who bring her to England. Once in England, she is raised and educated in an English Catholic household.
When Susan comes of age, the family marry her off to an older Catholic man, John Charlewood. Charlewood runs a printing press and uses it to supply the Papist nobility with illegal Catholic texts and foment rebellion amongst the Catholic underclass. When Charlewood dies, Susan takes over the business and uses her new position to find out more about her origins.
A look at racial relationships on the eve of the beginning of the transatlantic slave trade, A Book of Secrets is a revealing and compelling glimpse into a fraught time.
Praise Song For The Butterflies
Longlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2019, a powerful, well-researched, fictional account exploring the trokosi tradition for the curious and the open-minded.
Abeo Kata lives a comfortable, happy life in West Africa as the privileged nine-year-old daughter of a government employee and stay-at-home mother. But when the Katas' idyllic lifestyle takes a turn for the worse, Abeo's father, following his mother's advice, places the girl in a religious shrine, hoping that the sacrifice of his daughter will serve as atonement for the crimes of his ancestors. Unspeakable acts befall Abeo for the fifteen years she is enslaved within the shrine. When she is finally rescued, broken and battered, she must struggle to overcome her past, endure the revelation of family secrets, and learn to trust and love again. In the tradition of Chris Cleave's Little Bee, Praise Song for the Butterflies is a contemporary story that offers an educational, eye-opening account of the practice of ritual servitude in West Africa. Spanning decades and two continents, Praise Song for the Butterflies is an unflinching tale of the devastation that children are subject to when adults are ruled by fear and someone must pay the consequences.
"Abeo is unrelenting - a fiery protagonist who sparks in every scene. Bernice L. McFadden has created yet another compelling story, this time about hope and freedom." Nicole Dennis-Benn, author of Here Comes the Sun
The Space Between Black and White
Illuminating her inner journey growing up mixed-race in Britain, Esua Jane Goldsmith's unique memoir exposes the isolation and ambiguities that often come with being 'an only'.
Raised in 1950s South London and Norfolk with a white, working-class family, Esua's education in racial politics was immediate and personal. From Britain and Scandinavia to Italy and Tanzania, she tackled inequality wherever she saw it, establishing an inspiring legacy in the Women's lib and Black Power movements. Plagued by questions of her heritage and the inability to locate all pieces of herself, she embarks on a journey to Ghana to find the father who may have the answers.
A tale of love, comradeship, and identity crises, Esua's rise to the first Black woman president of Leicester University Students' Union and Queen Mother of her village, is inspiring, honest, and full of heart.
Betty Trask Award winner 2016. A stunning debut from the author of Speak Gigantular.
A fragile outsider living in London, Joy struggles to pull the threads of her life back together after her mother's sudden death. Emptiness consumes her and, needing to fill the gaps of her loss, she finds she is drawn to a unique artefact inherited from her mother - a warrior's head cast in brass that belonged to a king in eighteenth century Benin, Nigeria.
Joy is haunted by a beautiful young woman who appears in her photographs, familiar yet beguilingly distinct, the woman trails her wherever she goes. Joy begins to dream of a different time, a different place. She feels an inexplicable pull towards this mysterious female, and a past revealing itself through clues is scattered in her path. As family secrets come to light, she unearths the ties between her mother, grandfather, the wife of the king, a fearsome warrior, and the brass head's pivotal connection to them all.
Haunting and compelling, Butterfly Fish is a richly told story of love and hope; of family secrets, power, political upheaval, loss and coming undone.
'a novel of epic proportions... I fully expect to see Butterfly Fish on many an award nomination list.' Yvvette Edwards
'A stunningly well-written book, juggling different timescales with great skill. Benin itself is vividly imagined in a historical narrative that runs in parallel with the contemporary London one. It is a wonderful novel." Simon Brett OBE
'A wonderful, richly drawn novel, cleverly juxtaposing scenes from everyday London with African folklore and mysticism.' Joanne Harris