Monique Roffey’s recommended books

By Newham Bookshop

By Newham Bookshop

Monique Roffey won the Costa Book of the Year for The Mermaid of Black Conch.

Green Unpleasant Land: Creative Responses to Rural England's Colonial Connections

£19.98 £18.58

A necessary academic and creative work about how England’s great houses have direct link to slavery. Also the author frankly confronts her own family’s past involvement in the save trade. Hot off the press and a must read in times of #BLM.

Trauma: Writing About Art and Mental Health

£10.99 £10.22

Packed with extraordinary essays from many well-known writers from cutting edge indie press Dodo Ink. A ‘go to’ contemporary compendium on the subject of trauma, ranging from one author’s childhood abuse, to another’s insomnia, and how they journeyed beyond these traumas, to my own #MeToo story and why we must love each other.

Bina

Anakana Schofield

£14.99 £13.94

This funny, feminist, provocative book made The Goldsmiths Prize 2020 shortlist. Buy anything by this author. This is a novel written in warnings, featuring a well past middle-aged woman gone rogue and actively political. It’s maverick and thought-provoking and audacious as is all of Schofield’s work.

Blonde Roots: From the Booker prize-winning author of Girl, Woman, Other

Bernardine Evaristo

£8.99 £8.36

What of the transatlantic slave trade was reversed? What if Africans were the masters and Europeans their slaves? An earlier novel from Ms Evaristo and a good’un. It cuts deeply into any white person’s deep unconscious bias and makes for an unsettling and also tragi-comic read. Relax into it and enjoy.

A River Called Time

Courttia Newland

£16.98 £15.79

A speculative fiction masterpiece. Set in a time when slavery and colonial rule never happened. The hero has special powers; there is an Ark where the elite reside and everyone else was cut off. Long in the writing, and very precious too. This is a master work by a brilliant writer at the height of his powers. Again this is a must read for 2021.

The Devil's Highway

Gregory Norminton

£8.99 £8.36

Great writing from a master storyteller. Three stories, an ancient British boy of the past, two traumatised people from the present and a bunch of feral kids from the future, their fates deftly woven together, while thousands of years apart. Set in rural Surrey, the novel crackles with ancient sense of place, and yet the best bits are when the band of feral children run riot; hints of A Clockwork Orange here with a whole new language and lexicon invented. Compelling. A book for our time.

Surrender

Joanna Pocock

£12.99 £12.08

A mixture of memoir, travel writing and reportage, Pocock is a new Joan Didion, a mistress of this blended genre. Very broad in scope, and set in a Trump-era mid West USA, this book is an eco-meditation on the coming climate catastrophe, a meditation on motherhood and menopause and a close examination of Trump’s America. Tons of fascinating people thrown in, foragers, eco-sex hipsters, also a bloody bison cull. Mesmerising.

Ricantations

Loretta Collins Klobah

£9.99 £9.29

Collins Klobah is one of the Caribbean’s finest living poets. Ricantations is her most recent collection, and its beauty and precision will make you weep. Most of these poems echo with the island where she lives, Puerto Rico. Her reach is vast; here we have poems about a butterfly farms, a hyperphagic child, a stray horse, homunculi in glass bottles, and even a poem about the filming of Lord of the Flies; also poems about the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Essential Caribbean lit reading.

The Left Hand of Darkness

Ursula K. Le Guin

£8.99 £8.36

A bomb of a book. Le Guin was way ahead of her time when it comes to again, unconscious bias, and gender pronouns. On Winter, everyone is bi-sexual, goes in to ‘kemmer’ once a month, where each of the inhabitants are sexually awakened and cannot choose which gender they will inhabit, giving us the famous line, ‘The King is pregnant.’ A love story and an ice adventure story. A rollicking classic, very relevant to today’s world of climate crisis.

Kitch: A fictional biography of a calypso icon

Anthony Joseph

£10.99 £10.22

An important book about Trinidad’s best known and maybe even most loved calypsonian, Lord Kitchener. Joseph, an experimental writer, blends the novel form with an epic biography and the effect is a rich, textured narrative and an important work. This biography of Kitch was long in the making, a jewel of a book. Read it for its poetry too.