Fire Rush: A Novel (Hardcover)
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FINALIST FOR THE WOMEN'S PRIZE
A NEW YORKER BEST BOOK OF 2023
“[A] powerful debut.” —The Washington Post
“An exceptional and stunningly original novel by a major new writer.” —Bernardine Evaristo, Booker Prize-winning author of Girl, Woman, Other
Set amid the Jamaican diaspora in London at the dawn of 1980s, a mesmerizing story of love, loss, and self-discovery that vibrates with the liberating power of music
Yamaye lives for the weekend, when she goes raving with her friends, the “Tombstone Estate gyals,” at The Crypt, an underground dub reggae club in their industrial town on the outskirts of London. Raised by her distant father after her mother’s disappearance when she was a girl, Yamaye craves the oblivion of sound - a chance to escape into the rhythms of those smoke-filled nights, to discover who she really is in the dance-hall darkness.
When Yamaye meets Moose, a soulful carpenter who shares her Jamaican heritage, a path toward a different kind of future seems to open. But then, Babylon rushes in. In a devastating cascade of violence that pits state power against her loved ones and her community, Yamaye loses everything. Friendless and adrift, she embarks on a dramatic journey of transformation that takes her to the Bristol underworld and, finally, to Jamaica, where past and present collide with explosive consequences.
The unforgettable story of one young woman’s search for home, animated by a ferocity of vision, electrifying music, and the Jamaican spiritual imagination, Fire Rush is a blazing achievement from a brilliant voice in contemporary fiction.
About the Author
Jacqueline Crooks is a Jamaican-born British writer. Her short stories have been shortlisted for the Wasafiri New Writing Prize and the BBC National Short Story Award. Her story collection, The Ice Migration, was longlisted for The Orwell Prize for Political Fiction. Fire Rush is her first novel.
Praise for Fire Rush:
“I was blown away by Fire Rush—an exceptional and stunningly original novel by a major new writer. Through the life of a young woman, Jacqueline Crooks excavates a submerged aspect of Britain’s underground cultures—the dub reggae scene of the 1970s and 80s. She takes us deep inside its wild, angry and hungry soul, and her mesmerizing, imaginative and incantatory writing leaves us swaying to the bass of the visceral rhythms she so powerfully describes. By the end of the novel, I felt charged and changed and already longed to re-read it.” —Bernardine Evaristo, Booker Prize-winning author of Girl, Woman, Other
“[An] incantatory début novel.” —The New Yorker
“Powerful . . . Crooks deftly demonstrates that music is felt just as much as it is heard.” —The Washington Post
“An impressive debut . . . Crooks has crafted a richly textured world . . . [Fire Rush] succeeds with great aplomb.” —The Guardian
“Ambitious, atmospheric . . . [It’s] exciting to be immersed in a British subculture we rarely see represented in mainstream writing. This is a full-blooded novel of passion and anger with a deep, bassy resonance.” —The Sunday Times (London)
“[Fire Rush] is soulful and spiritual, but it is, most importantly, about the way in which music can unlock identity and excitement that we didn’t know we had.” —SSENSE
“[An] exceptional portrait of 1970s London . . . I doubt any author has channeled so beautifully the skittering beats and otherworldly transcendence of dub as Jacqueline Crooks does in this remarkable [novel] . . . in terms of sheer lyrical force it stands head and shoulders above most debuts . . . startling images abound on almost every page . . . characterization is understated and deft, while the novel refracts its politics less through declamatory observation than through Yamaye’s exquisitely rendered state of mind, simultaneously deeply felt and disassociated.” —Claire Allfree, The Telegraph (London)
“Fire Rush is a dramatic page-turner with a big heart and a careful eye toward the Jamaican diaspora, ranking it among some of the most gripping releases in recent memory.” —Chicago Review of Books
“[Fire Rush] is a powerhouse of color, music, feminism, grief and vision.” —Ms. Magazine
“Intense, hypnotic, and completely transportive. With an unmatchable voice and urgent pacing, the opening pages clutched me . . . Jacqueline Crooks has crafted a gripping and deeply moving book, one I wanted to savor . . . As soon as I finished the book, l wanted to reread it.” —Summer Koester, Ploughshares
“Rhythmic and riveting.” —Bustle
“Crooks’ lyrical debut dances to the rhythm of the reggae music that pulses throughout it, in a powerful portrait of black womanhood in late 20th century Britain and beyond” —The Independent (London)
“A lyrical debut powered by uncompromising political force.” —The Mail on Sunday (London)
“An incredible story . . . The rich descriptions of Yamaye and her friends skanking to the music are immersive and gesture at the spirits of Yamaye’s Jamaican forebears . . . [Fire Rush] is a triumph.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“A compelling coming-of-age story about personal loss and political awakening . . . incendiary . . Crooks creates unforgettable characters here, fleshed out with empathy and wisdom.” —Kirkus Reviews
“A much-anticipated debut novel . . . Crooks artfully examines the conflicts of clashing cultures and what it means to be in constant fear for your life. It’s a tale of very raw emotions and heavy grief, but Crooks leaves space for hope. The lyricism of her prose rings out through her use of patois, creating a multilayered literary experience that speaks to the soul like a great reggae album. Perfect for fans of Bernardine Evaristo and Edwidge Danticat.” —Booklist
“This beautiful, sprawling narrative is wrought with an incredible precision and a musicality which carries every sentence. Crooks’ novel haunts but makes space for hope as well.” —Caleb Azumah Nelson, author of Open Water
“A brilliant, exuberant novel. Full of beauty, musicality and feminist power.” —Irenosen Okojie, author of Butterfly Fish