For readers of Zadie Smith and Marlon James, an electrifying literary debut about a young man’s fraught decision: escape a dangerous past alone, or stay with the woman he loves, braving the pull of his old life’s temptations
Sayon Hughes longs to escape the rough-and-tumble Bristol neighborhood of Ends, the tight-knit but sometimes lawless world he was raised in, and make a better life with Shona, the girl he’s loved since grade school. With few paths out, he latches on to a job dealing drugs alongside his cousin, the unpredictable but fiercely loyal Cuba. Sayon is on the cusp of making a clean break for good when an altercation with a rival dealer turns deadly, upending his plans.
The fatal crime has an unexpected witness, Shona’s father, a neighborhood pastor. In a misguided attempt to shelter his daughter, the minister threatens the young man with blackmail. Sayon’s loyalties are torn. If Shona learns his secret, he will lose her forever. But if he doesn’t escape from Ends now, he may never get another chance. Is it possible to break free of the bookies’ tickets, the burnt spoons, and the crooked solutions, and still to keep the love of his life?
Crafted with linguistic bravado, Moses McKenzie’s dazzling debut ripples with authenticity and originality. In its sheer lyrical power, An Olive Grove in Ends recalls the work of James Baldwin and marks the arrival of an exciting new voice, rendering a vibrant and teeming world we have read too little about.
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