Courttia Newland

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Courttia Newland was born in 1973 in Hammersmith, west London, where his highly acclaimed first novel, The Scholar (1998), is set. His second book, Society Within (1999), is a collection of short stories about young black Londoners. In his latest novel, Snakeskin (2002), a black politician is shocked by the police investigation into the murder of his daughter.

Newland is the editor of IC3: The Penguin Book of New Black Writing in Britain (2000). His plays include the acclaimed The Far Side, about the murder of a young black man by a white youth, and Mother’s Day, premiered at the Lyric Studio Hammersmith in autumn 2002. His career has encompassed both screen and playwriting; plays include B is for Black, and an adaptation of Euripedes Women of Troy. Newland was nominated for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the CWA Dagger in the Library Award, the Alfred Fagon Award, the Frank O’ Conner Award and The Edge Hill Prize 2012. His latest anthology, co-edited with Monique Roffey, is Tell Tales 4: The Global Village (2009). His most recent novel, The Gospel According to Cane, was published by Akashic Books (US) and Telegram (UK) in February 2013.

from The Gospel According to Cane

There is the matter of what happened, and how, and when[1], and of course my own shirking of details, which is understandable, I’m sure. I’m not going to go into a diatribe about the whole awfulness, how hard is to look back, all that angst. I can say this – since the moment I started writing I knew I had to get to this point, the part where I told. It seems my life ever since has been a constant debate of do I, don’t I, are they worthy, should I let things be? It’s the constant murmur in the back of my class, the one I try to dismiss and always fail to.

So, on with the show. And yes, I’m still being facetious.

I can’t recount what happened verbatim because I don’t actually know. It was him. My husband. Reduce anything to a simple noun and it’s easy to retain distance. Let’s make things tougher, shall we? Let’s call him Patrick. That was his name, and it’s his story, so we should at least call him by it. Patrick. There was a time when I loved the sound those combined syllables made.

Patrick was taking care of Malakay because I had gone back to my workplace to talk about my return from maternity leave. I was reluctant to be away from my child, but I didn’t want to leave the job for too long, and we weren’t rich enough not to need the money, and my maternity benefits only went so far. I’d expressed a few bottles of milk and left them in the fridge with carrot slices[2], as Malakay liked them to chew on, and was just becoming aware of solids. Patrick was taking our son to Ravenscourt Park so he could crawl in the grass and get some fresh air, Daddy too I remember thinking. That much I know.

[1] It was April 10th 1991.
[2] He’d also grown partial to slices of lemon, which he’d gnaw with a severe wince and great delight.

Continue reading The Gospel According to Cane at Writer’s Hub.