Rainbow Milk is an intersectional coming-of-age story, following nineteen-year-old Jesse McCarthy as he grapples with his racial and sexual identities against the backdrop of a Jehovah's Witness upbringing and the legacies of the Windrush generation. In the Black Country in the 1950s, ex-boxer Norman Alonso is a determined and humble Jamaican who has moved to Britain with his wife to secure a brighter future for themselves and their children. Blighted with unexpected illness and racism, Norman and his family are resilient in the face of such hostilities, but are all too aware that they will need more than just hope to survive. At the turn of the millennium, Jesse seeks a fresh start in London - escaping from a broken immediate family, a repressive religious community and the desolate, disempowered Black Country - but finds himself at a loss for a new centre of gravity, and turns to sex work to create new notions of love, fatherhood and spirituality. Rainbow Milk is a bold exploration of race, class, sexuality, freedom and religion across generations, time and cultures. Paul Mendez is a fervent new writer with an original and urgent voice.
This ground-breaking and fearless debut shows how its young black protagonist tests the limits of sexual freedom. From the Eden of Jamaica to Wolverhampton in the 1950s, a Windrush couple and subsequent generations lament their decision to come to the UK. By 2002 we meet their grandson Jesse McCarthy, a naive young black man struggling to make a living in London as a rent boy. It's a coming-of-age story that touches on Jesse's journey with sex, with race, with religion and we really do journey with him side by side. It's so wise and so accomplished that it's difficult to believe this is a debut. Paul Mendes is an exciting new voice and one we can't wait to read more of. Head to our 'Black Lit Matters' list to find more must-read novels by black writers.