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Sufferah: The Memoir of a Brixton Reggae-Head

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In this breathtaking memoir, acclaimed author Alex Wheatle details how reggae music became his salvation through a childhood marred by abuse, imprisonment, and police brutality

Now available for preorder. All preorders will ship on or before July 4, 2023.

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Forthcoming: 7/4/23

$26.95 $20.21

What people are saying…

“Alex Wheatle’s Sufferah is a moving account of one writer’s indomitable will to overcome the odds stacked against him. A tender, hilarious, and deeply felt memoir, the book places Wheatle’s experiences in foster care and incarceration within a larger context of racism in the UK and dovetails with his coming of age as a lover of reggae music. What a gift to witness Wheatle’s journey to find and forgive his birth family and to make a life and family of his own.”—Naomi Jackson, author of The Star Side of Bird Hill

“Alex Wheatle’s bracingly honest, at times excruciatingly evocative memoir is shaped by the poetics of reggae music—but more than that, it is reggae music: brimming with all the pain and injustice that is baked into Babylon system, yet at the same time, by virtue of its artistic majesty, a beautiful transcendence of these things.” —Baz Dreisinger, author of Incarceration Nations

“Alex Wheatle’s great mission is to make ‘sufferahs’ visible and represent them in his art. With this insightful memoir, which mixes music with memory, he has done exactly that.”—C.J. Farley, author of Zero O’Clock

“This searing record of a writer’s journey is that and more: A history of the reggae revolution in bass riddim. A raw account of racism in Britain. A prose that is Wheatle at his best—gritty, fast-paced, fierce, funny, restrained, a tightrope walker’s balance. A crucial chapter in the story of Black lives. It’s hard to put this book down.” —Curdella Forbes, author of A Tall History of Sugar

“Alex Wheatle writes from a place of honesty and passion, with the full knowledge and understanding that change can only happen through words and actions.” —Steve McQueen, Academy Award–winning film director


Description

Now available for preorder. All preorders will ship on or before July 4, 2023.

Abandoned as a baby to the British foster care system, Alex Wheatle grew up without any knowledge of his Jamaican parentage or family history. Preoccupied with his own roots, Alex grew inexorably drawn to reggae music, which became his primary solace through years of physical and mental abuse in a children’s home.

Although riven by loneliness and depression, Alex found joy and empathy among his reggae heroes: Dennis Brown, Bob Marley, Marcia Griffiths, the Mighty Diamonds, Sister Nancy, Gregory Isaacs, Barrington Levy, King Yellowman, and so many others. These were friends and mentors who understood the enormous challenges facing a young Black man, gave purpose to despair, provided a sense of belonging when Alex had no one, and who educated him in ways no school ever could. From the abuse he suffered in foster care, to the challenges he faced on the streets of South London as a young man and his eventual imprisonment for participating in the legendary 1981 Brixton uprising against racial injustice, reggae music always provided a lifeline to Alex.

Alex’s life story was portrayed in Oscar Award–winning director Steve McQueen’s 2020 Small Axe, and viewers  will know that Alex is now one of the most lauded writers in Great Britain, deservedly honored with a Member of the British Empire (MBE) for services to literature. In Sufferah, he vividly tells his own story, putting the reader in his shoes through the many challenges of his younger years, answering the question: how on earth did he make it?

Alex Wheatle’s award-winning fiction—and this memoir—are a gift to us all, a call to never give up hope. His stories were inspired by a boy in the UK who knew nothing about himself but found a rich heritage, and through Sufferah we are reminded that words can be our sustenance, and music can be our heartbeat.


Book Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Published: 7/4/23
  • IBSN: 9781636140933
  • e-IBSN: 9781636140940

Author

ALEX WHEATLE is the author of several best-selling books including the young adult novels Kemosha of the Caribbean, Cane Warriors, and Home Girl, the modern classic Brixton Rock, and the multiaward-winning Crongton series. He is the subject of the historical drama film Alex Wheatle, which is part of filmmaker Steve McQueen’s lauded anthology series Small Axe. His body of work was a finalist for the 2021 NSK Neustadt Prize for Children’s Literature and has won numerous awards, including the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize. His latest work is Sufferah: The Memoir of a Brixton Reggae-Head.

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