Told by Manu, this novel journeys through 18th-century London and Demerara in British Guiana, recounting experiences that might be dreamed or remembered. With a diverse cast--including slaves, lowly women on the make, lustful overseers, sodomites, and pious Jews--these characters come alive from artist William Hogarth's engravings; Hogarth himself also appears as a drunkard official artist in Demerara, from whom the slave Cato steals his skills and discovers a way of remaking his world. From the dens of sexual specialties, where the ex-slave Francis conducts a highly popular flagellant mission to cure his clients of their man-love and preach abolition, to the sugar estates of Demerara, this novel revels in the connections of empire, art, literature, and human desire in ways that are comic, salutary, and redemptive.
“He shatters expectation.” Hilary Mantel, The Independent
“Exhilarating... beguiling and provocative.” The Times
“Dabydeen has an imaginative mastery of the period, and can render it a hundred ways.” The Observer
UK / Peepal Tree Press