The Republic of Consciousness has longlisted LOTE by Shola von Reinhold for its 2021 prize. The queer literary debut was published in March 2020 and is part of Jacaranda’s #Twentyin2020 publishing initiative to publish twenty books by Black British writers in one year.
LOTE follows solitary Mathilda who has long been enamoured with the ‘Bright Young Things’ of the 20s, and throughout her life, her attempts at reinvention have mirrored their extravagance and artfulness. After discovering a photograph of the forgotten Black modernist poet Hermia Druitt, who ran in the same circles as the Bright Young Things that she adores, Mathilda becomes transfixed and resolves to learn as much as she can about the mysterious figure. Her search brings her to a peculiar artists’ residency in Dun, a small European town Hermia was known to have lived in during the 30s. The artists’ residency throws her deeper into a lattice of secrets and secret societies that takes hold of her aesthetic imagination. From champagne theft and Black Modernisms, to art sabotage, alchemy and lotus-eating proto-luxury communist cults, Mathilda’s journey through modes of aesthetic expression guides her to truth and the convoluted ways it is made and obscured.
Shola von Reinhold’s decadent, incisive and witty debut has been slowly making the rounds in literary circles and reviewers have called it “a celebration of eccentricity” and Paul Mendez, author of Rainbow Milk said LOTE is “An inspirational, cutting, exquisitely written, multilevel excavation of forgotten Black lives and an Afro-queer celebration of art, aesthetics, literature, and society.”.
The prize is specifically for Small Presses and rewards the best fiction published by publishers with fewer than 5 full-time employees. This year’s prize is judged by novelist Guy Gunaratne, writer, publisher and podcaster John Mitchinson, and lecturer and writer Eley Williams.The shortlist for the prize will be announced late March 2021, and the winner will be announced mid-May. You can order your copy from your local bookshop, online or at Jacaranda Books.
The other books longlisted include:
A Ghost in the Throat by Doireann Ni Ghriofa
Alindarka’s Children by Alhierd Bacharevič
Men and Apparitions by Lynne Tillman
The Mermaid of Black Conch by Monique Roffey
Unknown Language by Hildegard von Bingen and Huw Lemmey
Mr. Beethoven by Paul Griffiths
Mordew by Alex Pheby
The Appointment by Katharina Volckmer
A Musical Offering by Luis Sagasti