An absolute beaut of a debut which we get to enjoy thanks to Vintage, 21 years after its debut in the US. The book opens in Spring 1940 with a dead child, raped, killed and abandoned by the roadside in the small town of Bigelow, Arkansas. An event from which the family and the town would never recover. Pearl’s heart broke that day when she lost her Jude, and so did mine. We fast forward to Spring 1955 as we are introduced to Sugar who arrives in the small southern town like a storm with her red lips, in her red high heels and blond wig. She was labelled right then and there. Abandoned at birth by her mother, and raised in a brothel, Sugar has been to hell and back and comes Bigelow to settle. In spite of their differences, Sugar bonds with her god-fearing, pious next door neighbour Pearl over sweet potato pie and pain. It’s a beautifully crafted journey of love, of loss, of understanding, of friendship, of rehabilitation. It’s a reawakening, an unforgettable one of two incredible characters who you come to care for deeply and I for one cannot wait for the sequel This Bitter Earth, published in summer 2022.
A groundbreaking novel exploring the intersection between race, class and mental health in the UK 'That is the glory of being a mental patient. Nothing is impossible.' It is the 1990s, and Gloria is living in a London psychiatric ward. She is unapologetically loud, audacious and eternally on the brink of bursting into song. After several months of uninterrupted routine, she is joined by another young black woman - Merle - who is full of silences and fear. Unable to confide in their doctors, they agree to journal their pasts. Whispered into tape recorders and scrawled ferociously at night, the remarkable stories of their lives are revealed. In this tender, deeply-moving depiction of mental health, Roy creates a striking portrait of two women finding strength in their shared vulnerability, as they navigate a system that fails to protect them. Life-affirming and fearlessly hopeful, this is an unforgettable story. 'This is a novel of daring - enjoyable, surprising and original.' Bernardine Evaristo
British Academy Book Prize shortlist A searing indictment of racial injustice in America - inspired by the life and work of James Baldwin - to help us understand the present moment, and imagine a new future into being The struggles of Black Lives Matter and the attempt to achieve a new America have been challenged by the presidency of Donald Trump, a president whose time in the White House represents the latest failure of America to face the lies it tells itself about race. For James Baldwin, a similar attempt to force a confrontation with the truth of America's racism came in the wake of the Civil Rights Movement, and was answered with the murders of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. In the years from the publication of The Fire Next Time in 1963 to that of No Name in the Street in 1972, Baldwin - the great creative artist, often referred to as 'the poet of the revolution' - became a more overtly political writer, a change that came at great professional and personal cost. But from that journey, Baldwin emerged with a sense of renewed purpose about the necessity of pushing forward in the face of disillusionment and despair. America is at a crossroads. Drawing insight and inspiration from Baldwin's writings, Glaude suggests we can find hope and guidance through our own era of shattered promises and white retrenchment. Seamlessly combining biography with history, memoir and trenchant analysis of our moment, Begin Again bears witness to the difficult truth of race in America. It is at once a searing exploration that lays bare the tangled web of race, trauma and memory, and a powerful interrogation of what we all must ask of ourselves in order to call forth a more just future.