The Jhalak Prize Long List

The Long List for the prestigious Jhalak Prize has been announced – and there are some amazing books on there.

The Jhalak Prize was founded in 2017 and celebrates books by British & British resident BAME authors.

First awarded in March 2017, the Jhalak Prize and its new sister award Jhalak Children’s & YA Prize founded in 2020, seek to celebrate books by British/British resident BAME writers. The £1000 prize exists to celebrate and support writer of colours in Britain.

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Longlisted are:

Antiemetic for Homesickness by Romalyn Ante
The poems in Romalyn Ante’s luminous debut build a bridge between two worlds: journeying from the country ‘na nagluwal sa ‘yo’ – that gave birth to you – to a new life in the United Kingdom.
Steeped in the richness of Filipino folklore, and studded with Tagalog, these poems speak of the ache of assimilation and the complexities of belonging, telling the stories of generations of migrants who find exile through employment – through the voices of the mothers who leave and the children who are left behind.
With dazzling formal dexterity and emotional resonance, this expansive debut offers a unique perspective on family, colonialism, homeland and heritage: from the countries we carry with us, to the places we call home

Inferno: A Memoir of Motherhood & Madness by Catherine Cho
Inferno is the riveting memoir of a young mother who is separated from her newborn son and husband when she’s involuntarily committed to a psychiatric ward in New Jersey after a harrowing bout of postpartum psychosis.
When Catherine Cho and her husband set off from London to introduce their newborn son to family scattered across the United States, she could not have imagined what lay in store. Before the trip’s end, she develops psychosis. In desperation, her husband admits her to a nearby psychiatric hospital, where she begins the hard work of rebuilding her identity.
In this memoir Catherine reconstructs her sense of self, starting with her childhood as the daughter of Korean immigrants, moving through a traumatic past relationship, and on to the early years of her courtship with and marriage to her husband, James. She interweaves these parts of her past with an immediate recounting of the days she spent in the ward.

[re:desire] by Afshan D’Souza-Lodhi
This debut poetry collection explores the yearning to love, be loved and belong from a desi (South Asian) perspective. Her work sits on the intersections of flash fiction, poetry and script, echoing the hybridity of the worlds that many young British desis find themselves occupying. Drawing on the poetry of many different languages and cultures Urdu, English, Konkani, Islamic and Christian this collection explores how we access our traditions from a distance
re: desire is a collection of poetry that draws upon literary traditions and cultural references to flip the male gaze common in mushairas on its head. Common themes for mushairas arelove, God and being drunk or intoxicated by love and God but is usually seen from a male perspective. The pieces in re:desire are mainly told from a female perspective, and question the gender given to particular acts, objects and ideas.

Poor by Caleb Femi
What is it like to grow up in a place where the same police officer who told your primary school class they were special stops and searches you at 13 because ‘you fit the description of a man’ – and where it is possible to walk two and a half miles through an estate of 1,444 homes without ever touching the ground?
In Poor, Caleb Femi combines poetry and original photography to explore the trials, tribulations, dreams and joys of young Black boys in twenty-first century Peckham. He contemplates the ways in which they are informed by the built environment of concrete walls and gentrifying neighbourhoods that form their stage, writes a coded, near-mythical history of the personalities and sagas of his South London youth, and pays tribute to the rappers and artists who spoke to their lives.
Above all, this is a tribute to the world that shaped a poet, and to the people forging difficult lives and finding magic within it. As Femi writes in one of the final poems of this book: ‘I have never loved anything the way I love the endz.’

The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave
After a storm has killed off all the island’s men, two women in a 1600s Norwegian coastal village struggle to survive against both natural forces and the men who have been sent to rid the community of alleged witchcraft.
Finnmark, Norway, 1617. Twenty-year-old Maren Bergensdatter stands on the craggy coast, watching the sea break into a sudden and reckless storm. Forty fishermen, including her brother and father, are drowned and left broken on the rocks below. With the menfolk wiped out, the women of the tiny Northern town of Vardø must fend for themselves.
Three years later, a sinister figure arrives. Absalom Cornet comes from Scotland, where he burned witches in the northern isles. He brings with him his young Norwegian wife, Ursa, who is both heady with her husband’s authority and terrified by it. In Vardø, and in Maren, Ursa sees something she has never seen before: independent women. But Absalom sees only a place untouched by God and flooded with a mighty evil.
As Maren and Ursa are pushed together and are drawn to one another in ways that surprise them both, the island begins to close in on them with Absalom’s iron rule threatening Vardø’s very existence.
Inspired by the real events of the Vardø storm and the 1620 witch trials, The Mercies is a feminist story of love, evil, and obsession, set at the edge of civilization.

A More Perfect Union by Tammye Huf
A breathtaking, romantic debut novel by Tammye Huf. Based on the true story of the author’s great-great grand-parents, A More Perfect Union is an epic love story between an Irish immigrant and a black slave, set in the pre-Civil War Southern state of Virginia in 1849 when inter-racial marriage was illegal.
When Henry O’Toole escapes the Irish famine and sails to America, he doesn’t expect the anti-Irish prejudices that await him. Determined never to starve again, he changes his name to Henry Taylor to secure a job and safeguard his future. Traveling south to Virginia, he meets Sarah, a slave woman torn from her family and sold to another plantation. There she must navigate the power system of the white masters, as well as the hierarchy of her fellow slaves.
Even though Henry’s white skin represents the oppression Sarah suffers under, and even though having Sarah at his side would force Henry to abandon his hopes of prosperity, their attraction is undeniable and they fall in love. But in 1849 on a Virginian plantation, inter-racial marriage is not only illegal but considered to be an ungodly abomination. No matter how much they want to be together, Sarah is trapped on Jubilee Plantation, owned by another man.
This is a love story of epic proportions—a forbidden relationship that has been forged in secrecy, and faces betrayal and jeopardy at every turn

My Darling from the Lions by Rachel Long
Rachel Long’s much-anticipated debut collection of poems, My Darling from the Lions, announces the arrival of a thrilling new presence in poetry.
Rachel Long’s much-anticipated debut collection of poems, My Darling from the Lions, announces the arrival of a thrilling new presence in poetry.
Long reveals herself as a razor-sharp and original voice on the issues of sexual politics and cultural inheritance that polarize our current moment. But it’s her refreshing commitment to the power of the individual poem that will leave the reader turning each page in eager anticipation: here is an immediate, wide-awake poetry that entertains royally, without sacrificing a note of its urgency or remarkable skill.

The Address Book: What Street Addresses Reveal about Identity, Race, Wealth & Power by Deirdre Mask
An exuberant and insightful work of popular history of how streets got their names, houses their numbers, and what it reveals about class, race, power, and identity.
When most people think about street addresses, if they think of them at all, it is in their capacity to ensure that the postman can deliver mail or a traveller won’t get lost. But street addresses were not invented to help you find your way; they were created to find you. In many parts of the world, your address can reveal your race and class.
In this wide-ranging and remarkable book, Deirdre Mask looks at the fate of streets named after Martin Luther King Jr., the wayfinding means of ancient Romans, and how Nazis haunt the streets of modern Germany. The flipside of having an address is not having one, and we also see what that means for millions of people today, including those who live in the slums of Kolkata and on the streets of London.
Filled with fascinating people and histories, The Address Book illuminates the complex and sometimes hidden stories behind street names and their power to name, to hide, to decide who counts, who doesn’t―and why.

Are We Home Yet? by Katy Massey
Spanning the years from 1935 to 2010, Are We Home Yet? is the moving and funny story of a girl and her mother.
As a girl, Katy accidently discovers her mother is earning money as a sex worker at the family home, rupturing their bond. As an adult, Katy contends with grief and mental health challenges before she and her mother attempt to heal their relationship. From Canada, to Leeds and Jamaica, and exploring shame, immigration and class, the pair share their stories but struggle to understand each other’s choices in a fast-changing world.
By revealing their truths, can these two strong women call a truce on their hostilities and overcome the oppressive ghosts of the past?

The First Woman by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi
A powerful feminist rendition of Ugandan origin tales, The First Woman tells the story of Kirabo, the equivalent of Eve in Ugandan mythology.
Smart, headstrong, and flawed, Kirabo is raised by doting grandparents in idyllic Natteria in rural Uganda. But as she enters her teens, she starts to feel overshadowed by the absence of the mother she has never known. At once epic and deeply personal, it tells the story of one young girl’s search for her mother, her discovery of what it means to be a woman throughout history and the implications of her future.
The book is billed as the companion to her acclaimed debut, Kintu.

Rainbow Milk by Paul Mendez
An essential and revelatory coming-of-age narrative from a thrilling new voice, Rainbow Milk follows nineteen-year-old Jesse McCarthy as he grapples with his racial and sexual identities against the backdrop of his Jehovah’s Witness upbringing.
In the 1950s, ex-boxer Norman Alonso is a determined and humble Jamaican who has immigrated to Britain with his wife and children to secure a brighter future. Blighted with unexpected illness and racism, Norman and his family are resilient, but are all too aware that their family will need more than just hope to survive in their new country.
At the turn of the millennium, Jesse seeks a fresh start in London, escaping a broken immediate family, a repressive religious community and his depressed hometown in the industrial Black Country. But once he arrives he finds himself at a loss for a new centre of gravity, and turns to sex work, music and art to create his own notions of love, masculinity and spirituality.
A wholly original novel as tender as it is visceral, Rainbow Milk is a bold reckoning with race, class, sexuality, freedom and religion across generations, time and cultures.

What’s Left Of Me Is Yours by Stephanie Scott
A gripping debut set in modern-day Tokyo and inspired by a true crime, for readers of Everything I Never Told You and The Perfect NannyWhat’s Left of Me Is Yours charts a young woman’s search for the truth about her mother’s life–and her murder.
In Japan, a covert industry has grown up around the “wakaresaseya” (literally “breaker-upper”), a person hired by one spouse to seduce the other in order to gain the advantage in divorce proceedings. When Satō hires Kaitarō, a wakaresaseya agent, to have an affair with his wife, Rina, he assumes it will be an easy case. But Satō has never truly understood Rina or her desires and Kaitarō’s job is to do exactly that–until he does it too well. While Rina remains ignorant of the circumstances that brought them together, she and Kaitarō fall in a desperate, singular love, setting in motion a series of violent acts that will forever haunt her daughter’s life.
Told from alternating points of view and across the breath-taking landscapes of Japan, Stephanie Scott exquisitely renders the affair and its intricate repercussions. As Rina’s daughter, Sumiko, fills in the gaps of her mother’s story and her own memory, Scott probes the thorny psychological and moral grounds of the actions we take in the name of love, asking where we draw the line between passion and possession.

Some great reads here…I can’t wait to find out who wins!

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