Ira Mathur longlisted for OCM Bocas Prize for Non-fiction

Ira Mathur has been longlisted for the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature for her memoir, Love the Dark Days (Peepal Tree Press, July 2022).

Peepal Tree Press reports that she is joined on the list of nine books by Anthony Joseph for his collection Sonnets for Albert (Bloomsbury), whose earlier books Kitch and The Frequency of Magic were both published by Peepal Tree. T&T Newsday has covered the longlist, and you can find more information at the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature website.

Description: Set in India, England, Trinidad and St Lucia, Love the Dark Days follows the story of a girl, Poppet, born of mixed Hindu-Muslim parentage in post-independence India. When she lives with her grandmother, member of an elite Muslim family, whose history is one of having colluded with the brutality of the British rule in India, Poppet unconsciously imbibes her grandmother’s prejudices of class and race. As the darker child in her family, this makes her feel that she does not belong, leading to an over-anxiety to please the adults around her. That feeling of unbelonging is repeated when her family migrates to multicultural Trinidad, made up of people from many continents, where she encounters Indian people, several generations away from India, who have a very different sense of themselves, who appear critical of what they perceive as her airs and graces. She begins writing about her experiences as a way of trying to make sense of them.

In her darkest hour, she meets Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott, who encourages her, when she visits him in St Lucia over a weekend, to leave the past behind and reinvent herself. All this takes place in a society suffering a crisis of order — an attempted coup by Muslim extremists and a rising crime rate with reported incidents of spectacular brutality. Can she, through her writing, examine each broken shard of her shattered family relations and reassemble it into a new shape in a new world? Can she make sense of herself in relation both to her own family and the Trinidadian family she marries into, and grow enough to achieve the courage it takes simply to be human? Raw, unflinching, but not without threads of humour and perceived absurdity, Love the Dark Days is an intricate tapestry telling of the end of empire that has Poppet’s story at its heart.

Ira Mathur is an Indian-born Trinidadian multimedia journalist and a Sunday Guardian columnist ( with degrees in literature, law and journalism. She was longlisted for the 2021 Bath Novel Award for Touching Dr Simone (out in 2023).

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