Greetings, readers! My name is Sareeta Domingo, and I’m an author and fiction editor. It’s my great pleasure to be bringing you a Book of the Week, each week here on Morning Mari.
This week, my selection is one of my absolute favourite British novels of the last few years, recently long-listed for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2020 – Nightingale Point by Luan Goldie.
Set in the mid-90s, the book begins by introducing us to an array of characters on a seemingly ordinary Saturday morning on a London estate. Goldie provides calm, vivid and empathetic portrayals of characters such as Malachi, a young Black man trying to do right and raise his younger brother, Tristan; vulnerable Elvis, a man navigating developmental issues and independence; Pamela, the white girl Malachi’s been dating, whose love of running provides an escape from her abusive father; and Mary, a Filipino nurse harbouring a secret.
So when this cross section of neighbours find their home of Nightingale Point struck – quite literally – by a devastating disaster, we’ve grown to love Goldie’s characters so rapidly that the effect is truly visceral and the tension gut-wrenching. The story deals with the shocking day in question, and the subsequent efforts of those impacted to heal and to rebuild their lives – collectively and individually.
The varied lives portrayed in the book feel like a love letter to the cross section of humanity to be found in city neighbourhoods that are so often neglected. In that way, it can’t help but have resonance with the devastation wreaked physically, mentally and societally by the Grenfell Tower fire, whose the third anniversary is this coming weekend.
Ultimately, for me, the story is a stunning testament to the importance of empathy and community – something so vital in our current times. And that is why Nightingale Point by Luan Goldie is my Book of the Week this week.