You Should Come With Me Now by M John Harrison
Sugar, Sugar by Lainy Malkani
Most of the stories have a contemporary (or recent past) setting focusing on middle-class Londoners brushing against their past. But it felt as if the author had pushed the most interesting nuggets of history to where they’d have the least impact: for example, the report of an elderly uncle claiming to have pulled oxen to the sugar factory in Trinidad as a boy; or the practice of immigration officers changing names to ones they can more easily pronounce conveyed through a conversation between people who weren’t there at the time. It could be because I don’t share her heritage that I didn’t find these stories particularly engaging. Or it could be that fiction isn’t the best medium for her talents. I’m left feeling that more artistic license might have enlivened this important part of my country’s history. Thanks to HopeRoad for my review copy.
Come Let Us Sing Anyway by Leone Ross
What an opening to acclaimed author Leone Ross’s diverse, lively and witty collection of short stories, crafted over fifteen years! From the weirdness of headless schoolgirls and talking food to sex to the anger of black lives taken as if they didn’t matter to the poignancy of a young Jamaican girl sent to live with an uncle she’s never met and knows very little about. This latter story, “President Daisy”, was one of my favourites – along with the opening “Love Silk Food” about the stoicism of a grandmother whose husband reserves his love for the excitement girls – heartwarming, without being in the least schmaltzy with a surprise ending about what love really means. With a flair for language to match her vibrant imagination, this collection sings loud and strong. I sincerely hope this won’t be the last of this author’s fiction I read. Thanks to Peepal Tree Press for my review copy, my first from this small press specialising in Caribbean and Black British fiction, poetry, literary criticism, memoirs and historical studies.