How To Say Babylon: A Jamaican Memoir bookcover

How To Say Babylon: A Jamaican Memoir

Safiya Sinclair

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LONGLISTED FOR THE 2024 WOMEN’S PRIZE FOR NON-FICTION

‘Dazzling. Potent. Vital’ TARA WESTOVER ‘To read it is to believe that words can save’ MARLON JAMES ‘I adored this book … Unforgettable, heartbreaking and heartwarming’ ELIF SHAFAK An extraordinary and inspiring memoir of family, education and resilience, from award-winning poet Safiya Sinclair. There was more than one way to be lost, more than one way to be saved. Born in Montego Bay, Jamaica, where luxury hotels line pristine white sand beaches, Safiya Sinclair grew up guarding herself against an ever-present threat. Her father, a volatile reggae musician and strict believer in a militant sect of Rastafari, railed against Babylon, the corrupting influence of the immoral Western world just beyond their gate. To protect the purity of the women in their family he forbade almost everything: nowhere but home and school, no friends but this family and no future but this path. Her mother did what she could to bring joy to her children with books and poetry. But as Safiya’s imagination reached beyond its restrictive borders, her burgeoning independence brought with it ever greater clashes with her father. Soon she realised that if she was to live at all, she had to find some way to leave home. But how? In seeking to understand the past of her family, Safiya Sinclair takes readers inside a world that is little understood by those outside it and offers an astonishing personal reckoning. How to Say Babylon is an unforgettable story of a young woman’s determination to live life on her own terms. ‘Electrifying’ Observer ‘A story about hope, imagination and resilience’ Guardian ‘An essential memoir’ Jesmyn Ward, author of Sing, Unburied, Sing ‘Heart-warming, tender and fierce’ Lily Dunn, author of Sins of My Father ‘One of the most gut-wrenching, soul-stirring, electrifying memoirs I’ve ever read’ Nicole Dennis-Benn, author of Here Comes the Sun ‘Full of courage and poetry … Has the power of truth telling’ Monique Roffey, author of The Mermaid of Black Conch ‘Atmospheric and completely absorbing, this is a fascinating story lushly told’ Diana Evans, author of A House for Alice ‘Sinclair possesses a rare gift … Every sentence sings’ Imani Perry, author of South to America

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