Incomparable World

S.I. Martin (Hamish Hamilton)

⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4.5 stars)

Something I enjoy about this new reality of interacting with people on zoom is the little insight you get into people’s homes. I was immediately drawn to the art on Steve’s walls – on one side he has a Rahmon Olugunna painting, its vibrant colours draw your eyes into a kind of hypnosis. “Yeah, he paid me in that painting,” Martin says, in exchange for some work he did for him. This cultural exchange of art between a writer and an artist, an appreciation for one another’s craft, warms my heart. 

Reading Bernadine Evaristo’s introduction to Incomparable World gave me that same warmth, one that quickly snowballed into a fidgety excitement. Prior to reading this book, my understanding of Black history in Europe pre-1900 was limited to the ‘moors’ (courtesy of Year 9 Othello) and the few slaves brought over from the Caribbean. Indeed, ‘When people of colour seem to be absent from British history, we can appear to be unrooted in our home culture and made to be interlopers’. Martin’s novel ‘challenged and upended the erroneously presented blanket whiteness of British history’. Seeing the slew of italicised names of books on Black history and books by Black British writers from the 18th Century had me thinking wow, there is a wealth of history here I never knew about


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