Bernard and the Cloth Monkey

Bernard and the Cloth Monkey

A collection of rediscovered works celebrating Black Britain curated by Booker Prize-winner Bernardine Evaristo


Brought to you by Penguin.

WINNER OF THE SAGA PRIZE 1997: a literary award for trailblazing new Black British novelists

A shattering portrayal of family, guilt and unshakable bonds as a family's deepest secrets explosively unravel

When Anita finally returns home to London after a long absence, everything has changed.
Her father is dead, her mother is away, and she and her sister Beth are alone together for the first time in years.

They share a house. They share a family. They share a past.

Tentatively, they reach out to one another for connection, but the house echoes with words unspoken.

Dazzling and heart-breaking, Bernard and the Cloth Monkey is a searing portrait of family, a rebellion against silence and a testament to the human capacity for survival.

'A quietly outstanding work of fiction . . . an exemplary novel' Bernardine Evaristo

© Judith Bryan 1998 (P) Penguin Audio 2021


  • Bernard and the Cloth Monkey is the story of navigating adulthood with the weight of a marred and difficult childhood still straining familiar relationships . . . An important contribution to the literary landscape
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About the author

Judith Bryan

Judith Bryan is a writer, playwright and academic. Her first novel Bernard and the Cloth Monkey won the 1997 Saga Prize. Her short fiction and non-fiction have been published in various anthologies including IC3: The Penguin Book of New Black Writing in Britain (edited by Courttia Newland and Kadija Sesay, Penguin 2000), Gas and Air: Tales of Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond (edited by Jill Dawson and Margo Daly, Bloomsbury 2002) and Closure: Contemporary Black British Stories (edited by Jacob Ross, Peepal Tree Press 2015). Her play, Keeping Mum was produced at Brockley Jack Studio Theatre, London, in 2011 (directed by Rebecca Manson Jones) for the WriteNow2 Festival of New Writing. Judith is a Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing, a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a Hawthornden Fellow. She has taught creative writing at City Lit, Arvon, Spread the Word and to community groups. She is working on her second novel.
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