Castles From Cobwebs

J.A. Mensah

Published by Saraband

Imani is a foundling. Rescued as a baby and raised by nuns on a remote Northumbrian island, she grows up with an ever increasing feeling of displacement. Full of questions, Imani turns to her shadow, Amarie, and her friend, Harold. When Harold can’t find the answers, she puts it down to what the nuns call her ‘greater purpose’.

At nineteen, Imani answers a phone call that will change her life: she is called to Accra after the sudden death of her biological mother.

Past, present, faith and reality are spun together in this enthralling debut. Following her transition from innocence to understanding, Imani’s experience illuminates the stories we all tell to make ourselves whole.

‘This is an extraordinary book, and I love the title. For me the prose is absolutely ‘cobwebby’ – it feels fragile, slightly surreal – and yet intense and emotional as Imani relives episodic parts of her childhood, first in cold Northumberland and then in the richness of Ghana, building to a more wholly realised self. I felt a powerful sense of her character through the first person narrative. Loved it.’ – Books Paper Scissors

‘A compelling exploration of memory, race, mothers and the fractured self, Mensah questions the frameworks through which we understand the world and interrogates how to put disparate parts of our identities together to become the most true version of ourselves.’ – Jessica Andrews, author of Saltwater, winner of the Portico Prize 2020

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J.A. Mensah is a writer of prose and theatre and teaches at the University of York. Her plays have focused on human rights narratives and the testimonies of survivors. Her short stories appear in collections published by Comma Press (The Book of Newcastle) and the forthcoming Northern Anthology by Dead Ink (Test Signal), among others. Castles from Cobwebs, her first novel, won the inaugural NorthBound Book Award.

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