Tripping on the ’20s
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Published in: July-August 2022 issue.


by Shola von Reinhold
Duke University Press. 392 pages, $19.95



WINNER of both the Republic of Consciousness Prize for Small Presses in the United Kingdom and Ireland and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, Lote mixes real individuals like British socialite Stephen Tennant with fictional characters, as well as first- and third-person narration and excerpts from the imagined book Black Modernisms.

            In Lote, things are set in motion when Black writer Mathilda Adamarola volunteers to work in the archives of Britain’s National Portrait Gallery, which she does in part in order to pursue her rapturous “Transfixions.” Those that capture her imagination are bohemian and queer figures from the 1920s and ‘30s, such as members of the Bloomsbury Group and the Bright Young Things. While there, she comes across a photograph of the decadent Stephen Tennant with a flamboyant Black woman, Hermia Druitt. Fascinated, Mathilda begins to search for more information about the little-known Scottish poet. This leads her to fake her way into a mysterious Residency in the small European city of Dun because Hermia had lived there.

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Reginald Harris, a writer and poet based in Brooklyn, is the author of Ten Tongues (2003) and Autogeography (2013).