As part of Jacaranda’s #Twentyin2020 initiative to publish twenty books by black British writers this year, Lote is already making history. And in its quest to shine a light on the cultural biases at play that ensure history remembers some and forgets so many others, it is a particularly poignant one.
Lote is a debut novel by Shola von Reinhold that explores themes of representation and the eradication of black, female and queer voices in history and art. It follows protagonist Mathilda as she struggles to find her place in an artworld that is dominated by the privileged, connected, white and middle class.
While interning in a national archive (where there is only one other black member of staff – and they too are unpaid), Mathilda comes across a photograph of the forgotten black modernist poet, Hermia Drumm, rubbing shoulders with the Bloomsbury Set and Bright Young Things of 20s London. Mathilda is captivated and sets out on a quest to learn all she can about Hermia, and how she came to be eradicated from memory.
With real-life authors and artists of the 20s and 30s peppering the pages, and lyrical prose, Lote is a deeply transporting and thought provoking read or listen, which is an urgent and timely contribution to the cultural dialogue surrounding the history of race and gender in Europe.
The audio release, produced by Audible, is brought to life by a star-studded cast: Zawe Ashton (Fresh Meat, Nocturnal Animals, Velvet Buzzsaw) Adjoa Andoh (Invictus, RSC’s Julius Caesar, National Theatre’s His Dark Materials) and Aurora Burghart (The Stranger).