Mr. Loverman by Bernardine Evaristo

by Shivanee Ramlochan, Paper Based Blogger

Truth be told, we’ve been having a spot of bother, keeping Mr. Loverman (Penguin UK, 2013) firmly planted on our shelves. Already on our second shipment of this, Bernardine Evaristo’s seventh book, it’s easy to see what makes it a surefire seller. For one thing, it’s got a storyline you can’t shake a stick at, so swiftly do the pages fly by in its bacchanal-infused telling. Barrington Jedidiah Walker, Esq., Barry to his friends, is perpetually sharp-suited and smooth-witted. He’s a veritable dandy who walks the streets of his Hackney neighbourhood with equal parts panache and well monied élan. Barry has held a secret close to his chest for most of his life, keeping it under wraps from his wife Carmel, a long-suffering religious zealot, and their two daughters. He hides it from everyone who forms a part of his immediate and extended society, save one Morris Courtney de la Roux. This is because Morris himself is the secret. He has been the object of Barry’s private ardour ever since, as the latter puts it, “we was both high-pitched, smooth-cheeked mischief makers waiting for we balls to drop.”

Ian Thomson, in his review of the novel for The Spectator (UK), concludes his glowing assessment by declaring, “It is to be hoped that Bounty Killer will read and enjoy this tender, even trailblazing novel (in or out of tight trousers).” Thomson’s reference to the Jamaican dancehall artist (and longtime anti-gay advocate) isn’t accidental: Mr. Loverman confronts hot-button issues of gender, sexuality and identity politics with unflinching commitment. From flashbacks of forbidding Antiguan village life, to present-day gay club scenes and domestic confrontations, readers have a front row seat to the unfurling drama that envelops Barry, and the big decision he must make.

Mr. Loverman isn’t afraid to wear the brightest colours in the public square, declaring to all and sundry that it’s well worth your time, your laughter, and the hours of animated chatter it’s sure to prompt in its (frankly, fabulous) wake.