MR LOVERMAN – A novel about a closet gay septuagenarian Antiguan-Londoner. Penguin UK, 2013 & Akashic Books, 2014
Barrington Jedidiah Walker is seventy-four and leads a double life. Born and bred in Antigua, he’s lived in Hackney since the sixties. A flamboyant, wise-cracking local character with a dapper taste in retro suits and a fondness for quoting Shakespeare, Barrington is a husband, father and grandfather – but he is also secretly homosexual, lovers with his great childhood friend, Morris. His deeply religious and disappointed wife, Carmel, thinks he sleeps with other women. When their marriage goes into meltdown, Barrington wants to divorce Carmel and live with Morris, but after a lifetime of fear and deception, will he manage to break away?
Mr Loverman is a ground-breaking exploration of Britain’s older Caribbean community which explodes cultural myths and fallacies and shows the extent of what can happen when people fear the consequences of being true to themselves.
(Also an unabridged audio book from Whole Audiobooks on Amazon)
Bernardine’s first fully-prose novel BLONDE ROOTS (Penguin UK 2008/USA 2009) is an original and often satirical take on slavery in which Africans are the masters and Europeans are their slaves. The protagonist is a captured white woman from Europa who tries to escape slavery in the United Kingdom of Great Ambossa.
Available as an unabridged audio book by Whole Story Audio Books (Amazon).
HELLO MUM – Penguin, 2010
An epistolary novella told in the voice of a 14 year old boy writing to his mother who lives on a London estate and gets into trouble with a gang. In this fiction the issue of gang culture is neither demonised or glamourised. Instead, his story deepens our understanding of the context of his life and the decisions he makes that shapes it.
Bernardine was the Suffolk Big Read author in 2010 and 40,000 copies of Hello Mum were distributed throughout the county including to every school. Over 70,000 copies of the novella have been sold to date, through non-traditional outlets.
LARA – Bloodaxe Books, 2009.
A semi-autobiographical verse novel based on the author’s family history. The cover photograph is of her parents’ wedding day in Camberwell, London, 1955. (This new edition of the book is revised and expanded by a third from the 1997 edition.) The novel travels back over 150 years, seven generations and three continents. The eponymous Lara grows up as the mixed raced daughter of an Englishwoman and a Nigerian man in London of the 60s and 70s, and the novel shifts backwards from the past to the present, including the stories of her parent’s childhood and inter-racial marriage and her predecessors in England, Nigeria, Ireland, Germany and Brazil.
SOUL TOURISTS – Penguin, 2005
An experimental novel mixing prose, poetry, prose-poetry, scripts and other non-fiction devices. Soul Tourists is about a mismatched black British couple who go on an indefinite car journey across Europe and end up in the Middle East. The man, Stanley, meets ghosts of colour from European history along the way who transform his understanding of the continent and his sense of belonging. These include Pushkin and his African great-grandfather, the mixed-race Alessandro de’ Medici of Florence, the Chevalier de St. Georges, Mary Seacole and Hannibal of Carthage.
Londinium, 211 AD. A city of slum tenements and sumptuous villas, of orgy queens, drag queens and drama queens. A city where the currency is often sex, where children go to work aged five and marriage is a career move. Through the bustling city, we follow Zuleika – feisty and precocious daughter of Sudanese immigrants-made-good. Married off at eleven to Felix, a rich Roman three times her age, perpetually away on business, Zuleika drifts about his villa, bored, until one night several years later when Septimius Severus, the Roman emperor, newly arrived in town, spots her at the theatre…
LARA (original cover) 1997