Patricia Murray


The voice, drunk and defiant, is that of Lara, about half-way through Bcrnardine Evaristo's novel of the same name. It is at this point that Lara begins to discover, or rather produce, her own version of post-colonial London; a new, hybrid identity that challenges the inevitability of a divided and racist national capital to suggest, instead, a positive diasporic space. Many other voices contribute to the telling of this history, their varying, often disembodied, tones adding to the multilayered nature of the writing which moves backwards and forwards in time in an attempt to piece together stories that have not always been passed on. Laid out as a series of prose poems, complete with an index of first lines, Evaristo utilizes oral and dramatic, as well as lyrical and poetic, storytelling modes. This concern with form, together with the sense of ' performing' identity which is enacted, reminded me of recent work by Pauline Melville and Mciling Jin,2 also writers who have been (and are) actors and performers, writing out of their complex post-colonial inheritance, and located in London. Of course, these writers must be read according to the various allegiances and connections that mark their writing,3 but their presence (and that of a growing number of exciting Black British writers) gives weight to Lara's cross-Atlantic clarion call.



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