The Bread the Devil Knead by Lisa Allen-Agostin
This rich, raw and urgent debut novel is a domestic noir of sex and survival set in Trinidad’s capital.
Alethea Lopez is about to turn 40. Fashionable, feisty and fiercely independent, she manages a boutique in Port of Spain, but behind closed doors she’s covering up bruises from her abusive partner and seeking solace in an affair with her boss. When she witnesses a woman murdered by a jealous lover, the reality of her own future comes a little too close to home.
Bringing us her truth in an arresting, unsparing Trinidadian voice, Alethea unravels memories repressed since childhood and begins to understand the person she has become.
Her next step is to decide the woman she wants to be.
This is an engrossing and atmospheric novel with a strong feminist message at the heart of its page-turning plot. It explores an abusive love-affair with searing honesty, and skilfully tackles the issue of gender violence and racism against the lush and heady backdrop of the national festival, and the music that feeds it. It’s impossible not to root for Alethea – she is an unforgettable heroine, trapped in ways she is only just beginning to understand but shining with strength, resolve and, ultimately, self-determination.