Fast by the Horns by Moses McKenzie review – Bristol’s burning

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A Rastafari’s tale of belonging and betrayal set in 1980s England

All English language becomes fresh in the Caribbean mouth. There is nothing the enslaver has given us that we have not reimagined new, made weapon. There is no misfortune we cannot, as we say,& tun our hand, mek fashion. This quicksilver sense of ingenuity and battle-worn verve born of necessity to Caribbean people is at the& heart of this compelling new novel by Moses McKenzie. Fast by the Horns is& a fascinating depiction of Black immigrant life and Rasta boyhood in 1980s England. With the sharp and delectable music of its dialect, the book grabs you by its teeth from the first page and never quite lets go. At its best, this is an urgent novel of ideas, constantly propelled by the narrator’s wildfire voice, written almost exclusively in beautiful Rastafari vernacular.

At the novel’s heart is a historical portrait of& Britain’s Jamaican immigrant community, and its inescapable ties to its colonial legacy. Centring on St Pauls in Bristol, two Englands swiftly emerge: one for the Black immigrants who are constantly harassed by the police and face high unemployment rates and crumbling infrastructure, and one for those Britons who claim the countryside, the yards, the& banks, the pigs, and eventually even the& neighbourhood’s Black children.

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