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Mr Loverman Paperback – 29 Aug 2013
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Mr Loverman is hilarious, poignant, clever, controversial and courageous in equal measure. Loved, loved, loved it! (Dawn French)
A brave and important story . . . I enjoyed it enormously (Jonathan Kemp, author of London Triptych)
Bernardine Evaristo can take any story from any time and turn it into something vibrating with life (Ali Smith)
An undeniably bold and energetic writer, whose world view is anything but one-dimensional (Sunday Times)
This riproaring, full-bodied riff on sex, secrecy and family is Bernardine Evaristo's seventh book. If you don't yet know her work, you should - she says things about modern Britain that no one else does (Maggie Gee Guardian)
Evaristo has a lot going on in this unusual urban romance, but beneath her careful study of race and sexuality is a beautiful love story. Not many writers could have two old men having sexual intercourse in a bedsit to a soundtrack of Shabba Ranks's Mr Loverman and save it from bad taste, much less make it sublime. But the hero of this book, and his canny creator, make everything taste just fine (Daily Telegraph)
A pacey fable about summoning both the daring and the art to live a truthful life . . . her writing simply fizzes with musical energy (Express)
A brilliant study of great characters in modern London (Independent)
Funny, brave . . . I loved Mr Loverman (Ian Thomson Spectator)
Transforms our often narrow perceptions of gay men in England . . . Comical, agonising and, ultimately, moving (Independent)
About the Author
Bernardine Evaristo is the Anglo-Nigerian award-winning author of seven books of fiction and verse fiction that explore aspects of the African diaspora: past, present, real, imagined. Her writing also spans short fiction, reviews, essays, drama and writing for BBC radio. She is Professor of Creative Writing at Brunel University London and Vice Chair of the Royal Society of Literature.
As a literary activist for inclusion, Bernardine Evaristo has founded several successful initiatives including Theatre of Black Women (1982-86), Spread the Word writer development agency (1995-present); The Complete Works mentoring scheme for poets of colour (2007-17) and the Brunel International African Poetry Prize (2012 - ongoing).
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Apart from the page-turning narrative there is the wonderfully exuberant way the author has captured the vocabulary, originality and rhythms of Caribbean speech and the book's language is a constant source of humour. One example must suffice - from page 1-2: Morris has sworn to give up drink and become a vegetarian:
Get this:…I found myself walking past Smokey Joe’s fried-chicken joint on Kingsland High Street, when who did I see inside,
tearing into a piece of chicken, eyes disappearing into the back of his head in the throes of ecstasy like he was at an Ancient Greek
bacchanalia being fed from a platter of juicy golden chicken thighs by a nubile Adonis? The look on his face when I burst in and catch
him with all that grease running down his chin. Laugh? Yes, Morris, mi bust mi-self laughing.
A good deal of interest concerns Barry's relationship with his grandson, Daniel, and his daughters, Donna and Maxine: how they contrast and how Barry learns how to understand them and appreciate their outlooks and how he has helped form them - not always for the best.
Overall I felt this was 'good read', light-hearted but dealing with real human issues of friendship, loyalty and the difficulties of facing up to relationship problems.
You don't need me to summarise the plot - read the synopsis and if it even remotely tickles your fancy then I urge you to give it a go. I couldn't put it down, but I didn't want it to end - it will easily be one of my books of the year.
Set in Hackney(which is where I live, so even better), the evocation of place is perfectly drawn, taking the reader into the eclectic streets around Kingsland Road, Ridley Road market and Dalston, and into the better-heeled environs of the West End. We are taken into the lives of a black Hackney family whose idiosyncrasies are entertainingly, sometimes tragically, described by Evaristo's gorgeous prose.
Barry and Carmel's marriage is described from their own, opposing points of view. Evaristo creates each voice deftly and sympathetically, from Barry's sometimes earthy, sometimes ironic always humorous tongue-in-cheek patois as he begins to face his demons - to a lyrical Carmel finding temporary comfort with the local church, before duty calls her back to her dying father, leaving Barry to fend for himself - un-for-tune-ately.
Evararisto describes the plight of thousands of marriages - the initial exhilarating hope of naive newlyweds turning to sour civility, during a 50 year marriage of barely tolerated resentment. Children, postnatal depression, the march of time and technology, oh and a love that dare not speak its name ... all taking their toll .. the characters are funny, lovable and multi-layered. I'm looking forward to rereading it already.