Thursday, 10 December 2020

Love after Love by Ingrid Persaud

Catriona Troth

What We Thought of It

Set in more-or-less present-day Trinidad, with its complex mixture of races and religions - and in particular among the largely Christianised descendants of Indian bonded labourers brought to the island when it was a British colony - Love After Love follows the lives of Miss Betty, her young son Solo, and her gay lodger, Mr Chetan.

Reading it feels like being privileged to dip at intervals into personal diaries of the three protagonists. Their Trini voices ring out strong and true and full of humour.

“If you bounce up your ex after all this time I find God should arrange it to be in a crowded supermarket on a Saturday morning. He and the wife should be vex with one another and the child throwing a tantrum on the floor.”

The narrative is layered and richly textured. Every time you think you know which way the story is going, it gives itself a little twist and flies off in a new direction – but one that, once you’ve found your feet again, feels completely right and true. 

Persaud captures the paradoxes of Trinidad, the beauty side by side with violence.

“We followed the coast road, taking in the beauty of mile after mile of beach lined with coconut trees. If this country didn’t have five hundred plus murders last year alone we would be in paradise.”

She examines the special nature of the relationship between a single mother and her only son – and what happens when that breaks down. And she picks apart toxic attitudes that encourage, or at least turn a blind eye to, homophobia, domestic violence and alcoholism. 

This is a novel that will make you laugh and cry and catch your breath in your throat. So assured are the voices that it is hard to believe that this is Persaud’s debut novel. Mind you, the author has already won the Commonwealth Short Story Prize in 2017 and the BBC National Short Story Award in 2018, so perhaps it should be no surprise that Love After Love is on the shortlist for the 2021 Costa First Novel Award.

An explosively strong debut novel and a welcome addition to the pantheon of fabulous Trinidadian writers like Michelle Innis (She Never Called Me Mother) and Claire Adam (The Golden Child)

Shortlisted for the Author's Club Best First Novel Award 2021

You’ll Enjoy This If You Loved: The Golden Child by Claire Adam, The Cupboard Full of Coats by Yvvette Edwards

Avoid If You Dislike: Novels writing in dialect

Perfect Accompaniment: Curried cascadoux (Trinidadian fish)

Genre: Contemporary, Caribbean literature, LGBT

Buy This Book Here


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