“This novel will be nostalgia trip for anyone who grew up in similar circumstances and a breath of fresh Jamaican air for anyone else” The Voice
Jenny and Hortense Rodney have always loved and hated one another in the way that only sisters can. From their childhood in Claremont, rural Jamaica, to working life amid the hustle and bustle of Trenchtown, they are the turning point in a multi-generational tale.
Enticed by the possibilities of the colonial “motherland”, the sisters move to England and settle in the bleak streets of Brixton, only to find that this land of opportunity is instead one that will stretch their fractious relationship to breaking point . . .
A hauntingly beautifully evocation of twentieth-century Jamaica and the Brixton of the Windrush generation, Island Songs is an epic of love, laughter and sorely tested family loyalties.
By the author of Brixton Rock, East of Acre Lane and Homeboys, and several bestselling, prizewinning novels for younger readers
“Island Songs grabs your heart ” Independent
“Alex Wheatle has a real talent for understated, convincing dialogue” Big Issue
Island Songs and East of Acre Lane, two must-reads - grab your heart, not with pity but with wonder that such beauty can come from such a life -- Jasmin Alibhai-Brown * Independent * Island Songs is a novel brought to life by a wealth of vivid detail and a superb cast of supporting characters. Alex Wheatle has a real talent for understated, convincing dialogue * Big Issue * Brixton Rock and East of Acre Lane were spirited, gritty depictions of life for second-generation black Britons in the 1980's. In Island Songs, his most ambitious novel so far, he tells the story of their parents' generation. An expansive family saga, it spans five generations but eventually narrows its focus to two sisters, Hortense and Jenny, who grow up in the 1940s and 1950s on a smallholding in Claremont, Jamaica. They inherit their free-spirited, sometimes fiery temperament - the source of much of the novel's drama, comedy, and fabulously witty patois dialogue - from their father, who traces his lineage back to the Maroons, a mountain-dwelling community of freedom-fighting escaped slaves * Independent on Sunday * I dare you not to be mesmerised by the 'susu' talk of the church congregation, the daily annoyances of box drink vendors and the street slanguage of Brixton. Wheatle's description of the simplicity of Jamaican life 'back in the days' floats you into the fields of callaloo and sweet potato with the sound of off-key church vocals in the back. It brings a new dimension to the struggles of the people of that period and shows just how much hope they had for the 'gold streets of Englan'. This novel will be nostalgia trip for anyone who grew up in similar circumstances and a breath of fresh Jamaican air for anyone else. So, sit back and pick up the time-travel book that delivers a real insight into 20th century Jamaica and her offspring. * The Voice * Alex Wheatle is the real deal; he writes with heart and authenticity, books that make you laugh and worry and cry and hold your breath. It's a pity there's only one of him -- Kit de Waal
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