Entering a psychiatric ward as a teenager informed Jacqueline Roy's brilliant, Bernardine Evaristo-approved novel, The Fat Lady Sings. In this essay extract, from the new issue of Hamish Hamilton literary magazine Five Dials, the author discusses the experience.
The newly launched book series, curated by Bernardine Evaristo, begins with six rediscovered novels by Black authors. Here, we speak to the artists hand-picked to create their covers.
Jacqueline Roy is a dual-heritage author, born in London to a black Jamaican father and white British mother. After a love of art and stories was passed down to her by her family, she became increasingly aware of the absence of black figures in the books she devoured, and this fuelled her desire to write. In her teenage years she spent time in a psychiatric hospital, where she wrote as much as possible to retain a sense of identity; her novel The Fat Lady Sings is inspired by this experience of institutionalisation and the treatment of black people with regards to mental illness. She rediscovered a love of learning in her thirties after undertaking a Bachelors in English, and a Masters in Postcolonial Literatures. She then became a lecturer in English, specialising in Black Literature and Culture and Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University, where she worked full time for many years, and was a tutor on The Manchester Writing School's M.A. programme. She has written six books for children, and edited her late father's novel No Black Sparrows, published posthumously. A second novel for adults will be published in 2022. She now lives in Manchester.
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