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Sufferah: Memoir of a Brixton Reggae head

In this breathtaking memoir, Alex Wheatle details how reggae music became his salvation through a childhood marred by abuse and his imprisonment as a young man protesting against systemic racism and police brutality.

Abandoned as a baby to the British foster care system, Alex grows up without any knowledge of his Jamaican parentage or family history. As he becomes preoccupied with his own roots, Alex is inexorably drawn to reggae music, which becomes his primary solace through years of physical and mental abuse in the children’s home.


Akashic Books USA
Arcadia/Quercus UK

Sufferah by Alex Wheatle -9781529428438-1.webp


‘‘First of all, just to say, wow – what a privilege to be invited into Alex’s life in this way. This book is an intimate glimpse into a life full of struggle, pain, discovery and joy. Often heartbreaking but frequently life-affirming too, a lens into some of the most pressing social justice issues of a generation. Alex is a truly gifted storyteller, and the way he details his own story here is no exception.’

Jeffrey Boakye

‘A moving account of one writer’s indomitable will to overcome the odds stacked against him. A tender, hilarious, and deeply felt memoir, the book places Wheatle’s experiences in foster care and incarceration within a larger context of racism in the UK and dovetails with his coming of age as a lover of reggae music and Jamaican culture. What a gift to witness Wheatle’s journey to find and forgive his birth family and to make a life and family of his own.’   

Naomi Jackson, author of The Star Side of Bird Hill

‘This searing record of a writer’s journey is that and more: A history of the reggae revolution in bass riddim. A raw account of racism in Britain. A prose that is Wheatle at his best—gritty, fast-paced, fierce, funny, restrained, a tightrope walker’s balance. A crucial chapter in the story of Black lives. It’s hard to put this book down.'   

Curdella Forbes, author of A Tall History of Sugar 

‘Alex Wheatle’s bracingly honest, at times excruciatingly evocative memoir is shaped by the poetics of reggae music—but more than that, it is reggae music: brimming with all the pain and injustice that is baked into Babylon system, yet at the same time, by virtue of its artistic majesty, a beautiful transcendence of these things.’   

Baz Dreisinger, author of Incarceration Nations 


‘Alex Wheatle’s great mission is to make ‘sufferahs’ visible and represent them in his art. With this insightful memoir, which mixes music with memory, he has done exactly that.’   

C.J. Farley, author of Zero O’Clock

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