Of many hotly anticipated September releases -- Cymene Howe's Intimate Activism, Norman Rush's Subtle Bodies [Kindle], Alice McDermott's Someone [Kindle], Jhumpa Lahiri's The Lowland [Kindle], Gill Hornby's The Hive [Kindle], Alan Gurganus's Local Souls [Kindle] -- the novel I may be most excited about is Bernardine Evaristo's Mr Loverman, because she's a new author to me and her gay protagonist will open a window on a minority rarely seen in literary fiction. Barrington Jedidiah Walker Esq., 74, a dandy and perceived ladies man, is a self-made, rich, black Londoner born in Antigua who convinces Carmel, his wife of fifty years, he has a low sex drive when in fact he's been lavishing his robust erotic energies on his former schoolmate Morris Courtney de la Roux nonstop for six decades. The Guardian writes:
"Barry, is a character bursting with vim. An intelligent man of wide but patchy reading, he coins phrases with the compulsive generosity of quantitative easing... Morris, a sweet-natured, tender and clear-eyed foil to rumbustious Barrington, has long wanted his lover to live with him, but the latter's family and the vociferously godfearing sisterhood of Carmel's friends stand between the two old men and bliss.
"When Carmel is telling the tale, Evaristo uses the lyrical poetic voice that is her most powerful and instinctive asset. Carmel was once a beauty whose turns on the dancefloor with Barrington made them the island's golden couple. In a lacework of phrases that catch the rhythm of memory, daydream and erotic longing, she remembers her early love for Barrington, the long years of frustrated desire, the upward road to education and self-fulfilment in Britain and the simultaneous decline of her marriage. Her female friends, whom we first meet as comic harridans, are revealed to have loved, suffered and supported each other through illness and helped raise each other's children; we learn that Barrington nursed Carmel through two long postnatal depressions."
"Various levels of subversion add fizz to the tale... 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."
Lucky Londoners: You can hear Evaristo read at Gay's the Word on October 10.