Reviews

  • Haunting, historical, archival and imaginative... a stunning debut

    Bernardine Evaristo, New Statesman, Books of the Year
  • Surge is a radical hybrid, painfully beautiful multigenerational ghost story, a social document, and a work of political archaeology. It is an indictment of this country's systemic hostility to its black, Asian and ethnic minority population, and the scandalous lack of accountability when this system claims lives. It is a heartbreaking and brilliant book about an ongoing tragedy

    Max Porter, Guardian, *Books of the Year*
  • Politically and lyrically compelling

    Raymond Antrobus, Observer, *Books of the Year*
  • Sensitive but devastating verse

    Financial Times, *Summer Reads of 2019*
  • A searing combination of artistic invention and meticulous research into the 1981 New Cross Fire

    Pascale Petit, *RSL Ondaatje Prize*
  • This affecting poetic exploration of the New Cross Fire of 1981 (dubbed “The New Cross Massacre”) is incantatory, lyrical and documentary. It makes a deep impact both on account of its own narrative and in the wake of Grenfell

    Elizabeth-Jane Burnett, The Sunday Times
  • A sad and angry consolation, alert to the past... Surge is a mature work, with lyricism both poetic and pop... [One] of British poetry’s most distinctive new voices

    Tristram Fane Saunders, Daily Telegraph
  • Although the fire, the subsequent protests and the founding of the Black People’s Day of Action were documented by poets Linton Kwesi Johnson and Benjamin Zephaniah among others, Bernard’s work uniquely addresses a new generation encountering this past almost afresh, as it is echoed painfully inthe present... The collection’s major achievement is its unfailing attentiveness to the framing of history through the stories of individuals and collectives that the poet holds, urgently, ethically and so skilfully, in their hands

    Sandeep Parmar, Guardian
  • If there were ever to be a twenty-first century Auden, with all the invention and cultural understanding, understanding of tradition and sense of the speed and the human outcome of foul politics, Jay Bernard is it

    Ali Smith
  • Jay Bernard’s poems sing with outrage and indignation, with fury and passion. They tell the story of two terrible fires of our times, and shockingly show how the past holds up an uncomfortable mirror to the present. They have brio, they have brilliance, they are breathtakingly brave. An astonishingly accomplished debut

    Jackie Kay

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