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Rainbow Milk

Rainbow Milk

Shortlisted for the Gordon Burn Prize

AN OBSERVER TOP TEN DEBUT 2020

‘Sensuous and thrillingly well written’, Observer

‘When did you last read a novel about a young, black, gay, Jehovah Witness man from Wolverhampton who flees his community to make his way in London as a prostitute? This might be a debut, but Mendez is an exciting, accomplished and daring storyteller with a great ear for dialogue. Graphic Erotica Alert! Don’t read this book if you like your fiction cosy and middle-of-the-road’ Bernardine Evaristo, winner of the 2019 Booker Prize for Girl, Woman, Other


‘The kind of novel you never knew you were waiting for. An explosive work that reels from sex, to sin, to salvation all the while grappling with what it means to black, gay, British, a son, a father, a lover, even a man. A remarkable debut’ Marlon James, Booker Prize winning author of Black Leopard, Red Wolf


‘This debut cements Mendez as a stunning new voice in fiction’ Cosmopolitan

Rainbow Milk is an intersectional coming-of-age story, following nineteen-year-old Jesse McCarthy as he grapples with his racial and sexual identities against the backdrop of a Jehovah’s Witness upbringing and the legacies of the Windrush generation.

In the Black Country in the 1950s, ex-boxer Norman Alonso is a determined and humble Jamaican who has moved to Britain with his wife to secure a brighter future for themselves and their children. Blighted with unexpected illness and racism, Norman and his family are resilient in the face of such hostilities, but are all too aware that they will need more than just hope to survive.

At the turn of the millennium, Jesse seeks a fresh start in London – escaping from a broken immediate family, a repressive religious community and the desolate, disempowered Black Country – but finds himself at a loss for a new centre of gravity, and turns to sex work to create new notions of love, fatherhood and spirituality.

Rainbow Milk is a bold exploration of race, class, sexuality, freedom and religion across generations, time and cultures. Paul Mendez is a fervent new writer with an original and urgent voice.
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Genre: Fiction & Related Items / Modern & Contemporary Fiction (post C 1945)

On Sale: 23rd April 2020

Price: £14.99

ISBN-13: 9780349700571

Reviews

This debut cements Mendez as a stunning new voice in fiction. Semi-autobiographical, this gripping coming-of-age story set in the Black Country in the 1950s follows 19-year-old Jesse as he comes to terms with his racial and sexual identity against the backdrop of his repressive religious upbringing . . . An original addition to the queer fiction canon
Cosmopolitan
Exquisite descriptions of the body, of longing and lust, set against the recent history of the nation. Proof once more there can be no discussion of English history that isn't also a discussion of blackness, queerness and class
Andrew McMillan
Sensuous and thrillingly well written
Observer
Eye-poppingly frank, urgent and fresh
Suzi Feay, Financial Times
Moving and memorable, Rainbow Milk heralds Mendez as an original new voice in queer fiction
AnOther Magazine
This book is marvellous. It is beautifully written, balancing fine observation and pathos, sexuality and high culture, struggle with triumph. It's pacy, witty and gentle. I loved every minute of reading this, and I am excited for its future readers
Okechukwu Nzelu, author of The Private Joys of Nnenna Maloney
Mendez's powerful coming-of-age story tackles subjects from immigration and religion to sex and race as nineteen-year-old Jesse struggles to make sense of the world
The i
When did you last read a novel about a young, black, gay, Jehovah Witness man from Wolverhampton who flees his community to make his way in London as a prostitute? This might be a debut, but Mendez is an exciting, accomplished and daring storyteller with a great ear for dialogue. Graphic Erotica Alert! Don't read this book if you like your fiction cosy and middle-of-the-road
Bernardine Evaristo
Rainbow Milk is a rich, beautifully-crafted story, uncompromising in its exploration of identity and privilege. The characters are portrayed with such tenderness and honesty - I know that I'll be thinking about them for years to come
Angela Chadwick
The kind of novel you never knew you were waiting for. An explosive work that reels from sex, to sin, to salvation all the while grappling with what it means to black, gay, British, a son, a father, a lover, even a man. A remarkable debut
Marlon James
Vivid, moving and packs a visceral punch
Lisa Appignanesi
Mendez's remarkable debut is a fervent, hope-filled and ultimately uplifting coming-of-age story
The i
This is a debut novel but it reads like a pro . . . His prose is cool, slippery and cuts clean to the quick. He takes you places unfamiliar and confusing and with a sentence connects you to the core of the character's mind. It's a fast ride in an astonishingly cool car . . . His sensual explorations of desire are mixed together with withering condemnations of British imperialist ideology, folded in with tender reflections on parenting, and what it means to be young, queer and black in the UK today
GScene
One of the most widely anticipated books of 2020 (The Observer named Mendez as one to watch), Rainbow Milk is a coming-of-age story that touches on racism, the Windrush generation, sexual identity and love. Beautifully written, this is a must for your reading list this month
Stylist
[Rainbow Milk] is more real and generous than most contemporary novels.Ultimately, this is a searing account of the human need for physical connection. Mendez never shies away from the melodrama of sex, the cymbal-crashing opera of desire. He is a unique new voice in the British novel
Johanna Thomas-Corr, Sunday Times
A novel that does what great debuts do - bringing an originality of voice and vision to the form, refreshing our ideas of what is possible in fiction . . . a novel of huge power and emotional impact, written in language that is sharp, distinctive and often beautiful. 2020 has been a year of superb debuts and Rainbow Milk is among the best
Alex Preston, Observer
Urgent, original and heartbreaking
Irish Times
A debut novel set to make a name for its author, Rainbow Milk is a tightly-written but wide-ranging exploration of race, sexuality, class and religion
New European
Daring, dexterous, exciting and accomplished, Mendez is a writer with plenty to say
Attitude
The prose is muscular, the sex graphic, the dialogue sharp . . . Rainbow Milk is a complex and intersectional treatment of race, class, sexuality and sex work and a powerful, thrilling and accomplished debut novel
The Skinny
A fearlessly groundbreaking debut
Colin Grant, Guardian
A state of the nation novel . . . extraordinary . . . the voice of the character is so strong . . . Paul Mendez is now a significant new figure in the literary world . . . James Baldwin would be very proud of this book
BBC Radio 4 Front Row
Exhilarating . . . Rainbow Milk is an important and ambitious book . . . a bravura piece of writing, with echoes of Andrea Levy's Small Island . . . think Barry Jenkins's Moonlight but set in the West Midlands, with Bibles instead of crack . . . if Rainbow Milk is anything to go by, Mendez looks set to shake up the literary establishment in the most thrilling way
i newapaper
A fearless and hopeful account of one black man's entry into adulthood that explores identity, family and sexuality against the backdrop of the Windrush legacy . . . this is a wonderful read from an exciting new voice in British fiction
Independent
A very beautifully and tenderly written account of what it was like to come to the "mother country", expecting a welcome and finding prejudice
Stephen Hough, Telegraph
Rainbow Milk is a bold and raw novel . . . memorable and affecting
Nadifa Mohamed, New Statesman
Described as "explosive", "beautiful", "original", this exciting debut is all of these things . . . Full of lust, longing and pathos
Kit de Waal, The Week
Mendez's novel, based on his experience of growing up black and gay in a West Midlands Jehovah's Witness community, is one of the most exciting debuts of recent years. His vivid prose elevates and brings to life an already extraordinary story
The Times