Forthcoming: Kei Miller’s “Things I Have Withheld”

[Many thanks to Annie Paul for bringing this book to our attention.] Kei Miller’s Things I Have Withheld (Grove Press) is due on the shelves in September 2021. Publishers Weekly writes, “Jamaican poet and novelist Miller (Augustown) gives a searing voice to ‘the things I have been trying so hard to write’ in this entrancing collection. In 14 essays that code-switch between personas and move from the incisive language of a university professor to Jamaican patois, he vividly depicts the ways colonialism, racism, homophobia, and privilege have shaped his life. As he writes in a letter addressed to the late James Baldwin, ‘there is little between… the set of circumstances you wrote of, and the set of circumstances we live in now.’” 

Description: By acclaimed Forward Prize winner, novelist, and poet, Kei Miller’s linked collection of essays blends memoir and literary commentary to explore the silences that exist in our conversations about race, sex, and gender

In a deeply moving, critical and lyrical collection of interconnected essays, award-winning writer Kei Miller explores the silences in which so many important things are kept. Miller examines the experience of discrimination through this silence and what it means to breach it — “to risk words, to risk truth; and through the body and the histories those bodies inherit” the crimes that haunt them, and how the meanings of our bodies can shift as we move through the world, variously assuming privilege or victimhood.

Through letters to James Baldwin, encounters with Soca, Carnival, family secrets, love affairs, questions of aesthetics and more, Miller powerfully and imaginatively recounts everyday acts of racism and prejudice from a black, male, queer perspective. An almost disarmingly personal collection, Kei dissects his experiences in Jamaica and Britain, working as an artist and intellectual, making friends and lovers, discovering the possibilities of music and dance, literary criticism, culture, and storytelling.

With both the epigrammatic concision and conversational cadence of his poetry and novels, Things I Have Withheld is a great artistic achievement: a work of innovation and beauty which challenges us to interrogate what seems unsayable and why, “our actions, defense mechanisms, imaginations and interactions” and those of the world around us.

KEI MILLER is a Jamaican poet, essayist, and novelist, shortlisted for the Costa Poetry Award and winner of the prestigious Forward poetry prize for his collection The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion. His story collection Fear of Stones was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book, and his most recent novel, Augustown was a finalist for the PEN Open Book Award, and won the Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature, the Prix Les Afriques, and the Prix Carbet de la Caraïbe et du Tout-Monde. In 2010, the Institute of Jamaica awarded him the Silver Musgrave medal for his contributions to Literature and in 2018 he was awarded the Anthony Sabga medal for Arts & Letters. He has taught at the Universities of Glasgow, Royal Holloway and Exeter and, in 2019, he was the Ida Beam Distinguished Visiting Professor to the University of Iowa.

For purchasing information, see https://www.amazon.com/Things-Have-Withheld-Kei-Miller/dp/0802158951/

Also see full review in https://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-802-15895-6

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