Book of the Week: River Sing Me Home by Eleanor ShearerBy Damian Barr's Bookshop
We’re back with our first episode of the new season and we’re starting off with a bang! Debut novel River Sing Me Home by Eleanor Shearer is a deeply affecting work of historical fiction that will transport you to the slave plantations of Barbados in 1834.
Mary Grace, Micah, Thomas Augustus, Cherry Jane and Mercy. These are the names of Rachel’s children sold to places across the Caribbean. Unable to wait for her freedom, she escapes the plantation and embarks on a mother's journey to find her lost kin.
Described by the Observer as ‘a tender exploration of one woman's courage in the face of unbelievable cruelty. The heart of the novel lies in its celebration of motherhood and female resilience.'
Discover the books that inspired Eleanor's writing with captions below.
Curdella Forbes£9.99 £9.49
A novel with a touch of magical realism, this book also contains some heartbreakingly beautiful descriptions of the Caribbean. I took inspiration from its themes of family and the journey to reassemble the fragments of your past.
Colm Toibin£9.99 £9.49
Colm Toibin, House of Names As a writer, you either read books and go, ‘I adore this but I could never’ or ‘am not trying to write like that.’ Or you read books and think ‘Aha, here is someone doing incredibly well exactly what I want to do.’ Colm Toibin’s book is that for me – the epitome of the style I’m striving towards. Spare, unadorned, with undertones of violence and darkness, but still lyrical and beautiful in its simplicity.
Toni Morrison£9.99 £9.49
Another book I have returned to again and again, and each time I find something new to love. Toni Morrison truly paved the way for all of us who want to document Black history that has gone unnoticed or unrecorded.
Derek Walcott Estate£17.99 £17.09
Derek Walcott is one of two St Lucian Nobel Laureates – not bad for a small island! This epic poem is rich and complex and beautiful, and every time I read it I get something more out of it.
I admire how well this book captures the brutality of slavery alongside the humanity and agency of those who were enslaved. It also offers a sense of what might come after slavery, and what healing looks like for those who have suffered so much.
C. L. R. James£12.99 £12.34
Another book about resistance, this seminal work of history by C. L. R. James brought the Haitian revolution to wider Western attention. It’s such an engaging book, and I’ve always been drawn to studying the Haitian revolution and the bravery of the men and women who created the first Black republic outside Africa.
The Book of Night Women: From the Man Booker prize-winning author of A Brief History of Seven Killings
Marlon James£8.99 £8.54
I love the Caribbean rhythm of the narrative voice in this novel, and I love how it centres resistance to slavery without having an oversimplified sense of morality. It’s incredibly complex and has unforgettable characters.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez£9.99 £9.49
This book was one of my first forays into reading magical realism and I loved it. My own work isn’t strictly magical realism, but I wanted it to have a touch of the fantastical about it, and there was no better source of inspiration than this.
Yaa Gyasi£9.99 £9.49
As a mixed race British and Caribbean writer who has also been greatly inspired by African American literature, what I love most about this novel is the way it weaves together the different threads of the Black diaspora. It also shows a side to the history of slavery that most people had not yet seen, as well as showing what comes after slavery has ended.
Annie Proulx£14.99 £14.24
The way Annie Proulx writes about the natural world in this book is nothing short of breath-taking. The way she captures place was such an inspiration to me as I set out to describe the world of the Caribbean.
Andrea Levy£10.99 £10.44
This book has such warmth and heart whilst still being unflinching in its documentation of racism and suffering. And ultimately, there is something redemptive at its core. I wanted to evoke this same sense of hope in my own work.
River Sing Me Home: A powerful, uplifting novel of a remarkable journey to find family, inspired by true events
Eleanor Shearer£18.99 £18.04
If you've enjoyed this list and would like to support the author and the Lit Salon, then grab a copy of Eleanor's new book from our shop.