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The Frequency of Magic

Raphael earns his living as a butcher in a hillside village in rural Trinidad. He is also a would-be author, but there have been so many distractions to the novel he has been writing for forty-one years that many of the characters have lost patience and gone off to do their own thing. But somehow, miraculously, the novel, as Raphael has planned it in one hundred chapters of a thousand words, seems to write itself...

Anthony Joseph
Fiction, Novels
Date published
17 Oct 2019

Multi-levelled and diverse in tone, The Frequency of Magic traverses across the gritty realism of village life, the speculative imagination of Luke’s travels through a mythic landscape in perpetual battle with his nemesis, the midnight robber, carnival figure of The Great Bandit, and the psychological odyssey of the musician, long separated from the village, a jazz saxophonist, travelling from gig to gig, occasionally meeting up with his lover, Ella.

Time in this richly ambitious novel is both circular and simultaneous, but moving, as Raphael ages, towards a sense of dissolution both of persons and of the culture of the village. But if there is a tragic realism about the passage of time, there is also a constant aliveness in the novel’s love affair with the language of Creole Trinidad with its poetic inventiveness and wit, with the improvisatory sounds of jazz and the undimmed urge of the villagers to create meaning in their lives. Above all, there is Raphael’s belief that in the making of his fiction, however messy and disobedient its materials, art can both challenge the destructive passage of time and make us see reality afresh. 

Drawing by Charles Ray
Cover design by Silvia Gaspardo Moro

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Anthony Joseph

Anthony Joseph is a poet, novelist, musician and lecturer described as ‘the leader of the black avant-garde in Britain’. He is the author of Kitch, which is shortlisted for the Republic of Consciousness Prize, and four poetry collections. His written work and performance occupies a space between surrealism, Jazz and the rhythms of Caribbean speech and music. He lives in London and performs internationally.

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