'The Darks' (forthcoming)
The Darks is a noirish literary novel that adopts and makes use of elements of crime fiction and has, at its heart, a corpse and a case of mistaken identity. Exploring themes of hardship and isolation, the novel is set in south-east London during the mid 90s and attempts to convey the atmosphere of living in this harsh, urban location. Recent books that I had in mind while writing this novel were JM Coetzee’s Disgrace, James Lasdun’s The Horned Man and Rupert Thomson’s Soft.
The Darks is the story of two immigrants: a 40-something black Trinidadian man called Jeziah and a young Bosnian woman called Ester. Jeziah is on the run from an act of terrorism which occurred in Trinidad many years previously and which has prevented him from assimilating himself into his life in London. Ester, too, is a refugee escaping her past, in her case from the death of her boyfriend during the beginnings of the war in Bosnia. Both feel an acute sense of dislocation and the novel explores the ways in which they come to terms with these cataclysmic events in their lives.
The novel begins with Jeziah locked up in a police cell. We gradually come to understand that he is there of his own volition; he suffers from a psychotic condition, the causes of which are unclear, but which he calls his ‘darks’. Ester, too, has a psychological affliction – the ‘gift’ of second sight. Proceeding from the initial enigma of the incorrect identification of a body dragged from the river, the novel switches between the points of view of Jeziah and Ester as the story progresses. Initially, Jeziah and Ester are unaware of each other’s existence, but their lives and fates become entwined as the story unfolds, culminating in an act of violence that will release them both from the prisons of their pasts and send them off into new, hopeful directions.
Thanks are due to the Arts Council of England for the Writers’ Award I received for this book.
An extract of The Darks appeared in the anthology Beautiful Blues (Vanguard Editions, 2017). You can read it here.