Official Book Synopsis
With echoes of Educated and Born a Crime, How to Say Babylon is the stunning story of the author’s struggle to break free of her rigid Rastafarian upbringing, ruled by her father’s strict patriarchal views and repressive control of her childhood, to find her own voice as a woman and poet.
How to Say Babylon is Sinclair’s reckoning with the culture that initially nourished but ultimately sought to silence her; it is her reckoning with patriarchy and tradition, and the legacy of colonialism in Jamaica. Rich in lyricism and language only a poet could evoke, How to Say Babylon is both a universal story of a woman finding her own power and a unique glimpse into a rarefied world we may know how to name, Rastafari, but one we know little about.
How to Say Babylon, immerses readers in a deeply personal memoir recounting the author’s journey to break free from the shackles of her strict Rastafarian upbringing in Jamaica. Sinclair’s captivating and vivid storytelling gives you an unforgettable glimpse into her life as she navigates the complexities of her family’s religious beliefs, patriarchal control, and her eventual self-discovery as a woman and poet. The detailed exploration of life within a Rastafarian family sets it apart, providing a unique and enlightening perspective.
Full disclosure here, the author and I are from the same place in Jamaica, Montego Bay. While I don’t know her personally, the telling of her story that includes familiar places and spaces is one of the reasons why I enjoyed the book. Overall, I personally find a book even more engaging when I know the surroundings or setting very well as it helps me to have more vivid visualization of the story. However, even if you’ve never been to Jamaica or Montego Bay, Sinclair’s writing style is truly enchanting.
The author paints a vivid picture of her key relationships – her parents, siblings and grandmothers. These relationships serve as a backbone for Sinclair’s exploration of heavy emotional themes, such as dealing with trauma, the journey towards reconciliation, and seizing personal autonomy. The narrative unfolds like a warm embrace, simultaneously soothing and gripping readers as they accompany Sinclair through her most heartfelt and harrowing moments. As the memoir progresses, readers cannot help but invest in each character as they witness their growth and transformations alongside Sinclair.
Similar to Elizabeth Nunes’ memoir, Not For Everyday Use, How to Say Bablyon explores family relationships with honesty and grace to the characters.
In conclusion, I wholeheartedly recommend delving into How to Say Babylon and experiencing Safiya Sinclair’s exquisite memoir of liberation and self-realization.
How to Say Babylon is available for pre-order. It will be released October 2023.
About the Author
Safiya Sinclair was born and raised in Montego Bay, Jamaica. She is the author of the poetry collection Cannibal, winner of a Whiting Writers’ Award, the American Academy of Arts and Letters’ Metcalf Award in Literature, the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Poetry, and the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry. Cannibal was selected as one of the American Library Association’s Notable Books of the Year, was a finalist for the PEN Center USA Literary Award and the Seamus Heaney First Book Award in the UK, and was longlisted for the PEN Open Book Award and the Dylan Thomas Prize.