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BOOK BITES | Julia Armfield, Moses McKenzie, Jim DeRogatis

24 July 2022 - 00:00 By Tiah Beautement, NOMBUSO KUMALO and JENNIFER PLATT

This week we feature a contemplative tale about grief and the deep blue sea; a novel set in Ends, a neighbourhood in Brixton, south London; and a must-read investigative piece on R Kelly.

by Julia Armfield.
Our Wives Under the Sea by Julia Armfield.
Image: Supplied

Our Wives Under The Sea ★★★★★
Julia Armfield

“So in pieces, then: a long time ago, we met,” writes Armfield in her debut novel. This fragmented literary tale blends horror with tender love. The story shifts between two wives, Miri and Leah. Miri speaks of the grief of having her beloved physically back after a traumatic accident, but no longer the person she knew. Miri recounts the horrifying events of before. With unsettlingly lyrical prose, this novel leaves a great deal unknown, a reflection of our knowledge of the deep sea. It is also an exploration of and tribute to the “unstill”, Leah’s word for the ocean. But unstill also describes being in grief and marriage. An immersive and contemplative read. — Tiah Beautement





Click here to buy Our Wives Under The Sea

by Moses McKenzie.
An Olive Grove in Ends by Moses McKenzie.
Image: Supplied

An Olive Grove In Ends ★★★★
Moses McKenzie

Everyone knows everyone at Ends neighbourhood in Brixton, a place where people are struggling to make ends meet; either surviving off the mercies of neighbours or turning to crime. No-one knows the perils of broken dreams more than Sayon Hughes. Slipping in and out of dealing drugs for his loyal cousin Cuba, Sayon dreams of a better life at the house atop the hill with the love of his life, Shona. Sayon’s attempt at a picturesque life is derailed when an altercation with Cuba’s disgruntled ex-business partner turns ugly. McKenzie’s scrupulous framing of a neighbourhood in flux is delightfully refreshing. His use of the distinct Brixton dialogue woven in the text is a welcome and amusing pause to the dark side of the hardships these characters face. The narrative is drawn out at times and the book is long, but persevere, it's worth it. — Nombuso Kumalo

Click here to buy An Olive Grove In Ends

by Jim DeRogatis.
Soulless: The Case Against R Kelly by Jim DeRogatis.
Image: Supplied

Soulless: The Case Against R Kelly ★★★
Jim DeRogatis

In 2000, Chicago journalist Jim DeRogatis received a tip-off that R Kelly had a problem with young girls. He then broke the story of how the R&B star had groomed girls, sexually abused them and paid them off. Nothing happened. The system, the music industry and the fandom stood behind their hero. DeRogatis then received the disturbing videotape that led to Kelly’s 2008 child pornography trial. The journalist doggedly stuck by this story for 22 years and now has updated his best-selling book on Kelly to include the 2021 trial and conviction. It’s not an easy read, but it illuminates the horrific tale and is necessary to understanding the forces that allowed Kelly to get away with the abuse for so long. — Jennifer Platt



Click here to buy Soulless: The Case Against R Kelly