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ebook / ISBN-13: 9781529428438

Price: £10.99

ON SALE: 6th July 2023

Genre: The Arts / Music

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“One of the big memoirs of the summer” i news

“A potent tale of triumph over adversity. Angry but never bitter, Wheatle’s compassion shines through the pain” Observer

“Alex is a truly gifted storyteller, and the way he details his own story here is no exception” JEFFREY BOAKYE

In this breathtaking memoir, acclaimed writer Alex Wheatle shows how music became his salvation through a childhood marred by abuse.

Abandoned as a baby to the British care system, Alex grows up with no knowledge of his Jamaican parentage or family history. Later, he is inexorably drawn to reggae, his lifeline through disrupted teenage years, the challenges of living as a young Black man in 1980s Britain and his imprisonment for protesting against systemic racism and police brutality.

Alex’s youth was portrayed in Oscar Award-winning director Steve McQueen’s Small Axe series. In Sufferah, he tells his own story, urgently, vividly and unsentimentally. His award-winning fiction – and this memoir – are a call to never give up hope. They remind us that words can be our sustenance, and music our heartbeat.

“Alex Wheatle is the real deal; he writes with heart and authenticity, books that make you laugh and worry and cry and hold your breath” KIT DE WAAL

“Alex Wheatle is an inspirer. He sheds light in dark places . . . He is a vital writer” LEMN SISSAY

“Alex Wheatle writes from a place of honesty and passion” STEVE McQUEEN, director of Small Axe


This searing record of a writer's journey offers much more: A history of the reggae revolution in bass riddim. A raw account of racism in Britain. A prose that is Wheatle at his best-gritty, fast-paced, salty, funny, restrained, a tightrope walker's balance. For me, a Black writer in America, the part that resonates the most is, it's the story of how we overcome. Once you start reading, it's hard to put this book down.
Curdella Forbes, author of A TALL HISTORY OF SUGAR
Alex Wheatle's Sufferah is a moving account of one writer's indomitable will to overcome the odds stacked against him. A tender, hilarious, and deeply felt memoir, the book places Wheatle's experiences in foster care and incarceration within a larger context of racism in the UK and dovetails with his coming of age as a lover of reggae music and Jamaican culture. What a gift to witness Wheatle's journey to find and forgive his birth family and to make a life and family of his own
Naomi Jackson, author of THE STAR SIDE OF BIRD HILL
Alex Wheatle's bracingly honest, at times excruciatingly evocative memoir is shaped by the poetics of reggae music-but more than that, it is reggae music: brimming with all the pain and injustice that is baked into Babylon system, yet at the same time, by virtue of its artistic majesty, a beautiful transcendence of these things
Baz Dreisinger, author of INCARCERATION NATIONS
Not only an intimate and completely engaging memoir, but also an essential piece of social history. Often heartbreaking but frequently life-affirming too. Alex is a truly gifted storyteller, and the way he details his own story here is no exception.
Jeffrey Boakye
Inspiring . . . His journey from orphan to self-professed storyteller is by turns gripping and heartbreaking
Publishers Weekly
Conversational and full of self-deprecating humour, Sufferah is a potent tale of triumph over adversity. Angry but never bitter, Wheatle's compassion shines through the pain
A personal memoir as well as a hosannah to the glory that is Jamaican music . . . Sufferah, by turns witty, tragic and, yes, righteous, is a gem