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Reading: Girls on Bikes / Keeping the House

We’re really thrilled to be able to share this special reading from Tice Cin to follow her brilliant recent GIRLS ON BIKES playlist. Bathed in gorgeous dappled sunlight before Cemile AKA bougainvillea, Tice reads from her Jhalak Prize shortlisted debut novel KEEPING THE HOUSE.

She says: “Cemile falls around accompanying leaves. The extract in this alternative video reading follows two girls biking through Lordship rec, time slowing and speeding with the awe and surprise that wind-whistling offers.”

We LOVE this reading, and we’re just made up to be Tice’s bookshop champions ahead of the final Jhalak Prize announcement on 26 May. Have a listen to Tice’s GIRLS ON BIKES playlist, read more about the book, and keep an eye out for another special something next week.

“Nene says it is expensive buying a bike, what for when the English government give you buses; sometimes you can even go with trains. If you want to go to the park, you can run to the park. If you don’t want to run, then you can walk through the alley that takes you down to Lordship Rec, if you walk even more you can go all the way through the grass to the bit where the Moselle needs to be pumped through so that it gets the right kind of water in, instead of the wrong kind of water. Brown. Murky. Some shoes floating. All different types of shoes, brown leather ones and Velcro black and whites. Floating on the water, chucked there by someone who isn’t grateful for what they have. I still want to take the bike, though, so when Cemile offers to ride with me perched on the back, I’m gone as soon as Anne lets me.

Us kids in twos going

between

bits
of wind.

biking like whistles

My fingers pinching in her belly.

Go a bit slower when there’s people in the way!
Cemile? Cemile! Dirty pavement cracking at the wheels.
Bits more wind and bits more wobble.

Pavement starts to blend into grass. She’s leading us with a map in her head, past a small hedge that looks forest-ready through Lordship Rec.
dodging benches in bushes like old cars,

towards Farm.

Moselle water sounds in my head.
If you listen close, the water sounds friendly as steel pans around here.”

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Playlist: Girls on Bikes / Keeping the House

We’re delighted to share a special Girls on Bikes playlist featuring tracks selected by Tice Cin to accompany her Jhalak Prize shortlisted debut novel, KEEPING THE HOUSE. She says:

“In KEEPING THE HOUSE, backies are just as important as steering the helm when veering through the vastness of Lordship Rec and its surrounds in north London. Enter into a sonic journey of longing and the split choices of young adulthood that imbue one of the core scenes from the novel.”

Us kids in twos
biking like
whistles
going
between
bits
of wind.
My fingers pinching in her belly.
Go a bit slower when there’s people in the way!
Cemile? Cemile!
Dirty pavement cracking at the wheels.
Bits more wind and bits more wobble.
Pavement starts to blend into grass. She’s leading us
with a map in her head, past a small hedge that looks
forest-ready through Lordship Rec.
dodging benches in bushes like old cars,
towards Farm.
Moselle water sounds in my head.
If you listen close, the water sounds friendly as steel
pans around here.

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Romalyn Ante Reads Two Poems From Antiemetic for Homesickness

ICYMI, last week’s readings from Romalyn Ante are now available to watch again via our IGTV. We felt that these were such special poems that deserved to be available for longer than 24 hours in our Stories, and we hope you enjoy them too.

The Jhalak Prize-shortlisted ANTIEMETIC FOR HOMESICKNESS is in stock now and available for collection or nationwide delivery.

https://www.instagram.com/tv/COaIXvGH0yA/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link
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Five Questions with Romalyn Ante

Romalyn Ante sat down recently to answer five questions about her Jhalak Prize-shortlisted debut poetry collection, ANTIEMETIC FOR HOMESICKNESS. Huge thanks to Romalyn for her insights, and to the Jhalak Prize for facilitating.


Congratulations on your Jhalak Prize shortlisting. Can you tell us a little more about your book? What inspired you to write it?

Thank you so much. Antiemetic for Homesickness explores what it means to be exiled through employment. What it means to leave your country to take care of others whilst you cannot take care of your own family or (sometimes) even yourself. When I migrated to the UK at sixteen years old to live with my mother, who is an NHS nurse, I always looked for our narratives in the British literary landscape. However, I could not find any stories about or by us. There are 40,000 Filipino nurses in the UK: we are the second-highest migrant nationality in the NHS, Indian being the first. During the pandemic, there have been high death rates amongst the Filipino nursing community in both the UK and the US. But who views us as more than just cogs in this big machine? More than just numbers? Our narrative has been going on for decades, even before the pandemic. I wrote Antiemetic for Homesickness to shed light on the community and the career that I love and to explore the human cost of living and loving. 

How does it feel to be shortlisted?

As a 1.25 generation migrant who chose to make Britain my new home and as someone who came from a non-literary background and writes in my second language, I feel so honoured and humbled to be shortlisted for the Jhalak Prize. But most especially, I feel so grateful because the Jhalak Prize provides a platform where my book can be acknowledged. Being shortlisted helps me to share our narratives, too. 

How important is your local bookshop to your community?

I believe that our local bookshops play a significant role in the growth and distribution of arts and literature. I felt so happy when independent bookshops in other counties, countries even, contact me to say that my book has ‘sold out’. Our bookshops help cultivate our literary and readership ecosystem and I’m so thankful they exist.

What do you hope that readers will take away from reading your book?

During my first year in the UK, back in 2005, someone asked me where I was from. I said, ‘I’m from the Philippines’. Then he asked, ‘So, are you Korean?’ I hope to inform readers of the story of Overseas Filipino Workers, especially migrant nurses. What are our dreams and predicaments, and who we are as human beings. I want to illustrate a sense of personal, familial and political fracture. Nowadays, when all of us are exiled from the people and the things we love, I also want to help the readers find their own sense of healing, their own antiemetic. 

The Jhalak Prize celebrates its 5th Anniversary this year. What are your wishes for the Prize over the next 5 years?

I pray for the Jhalak Prize to prosper because prizes like this are not only necessary but also revolutionary. I believe there are many more writers whose narratives need a platform to truly shine, and there are millions of readers who need to know our stories. The Jhalak Prize allows the writers to be understood, and the readers to understand more. And through that understanding, empathy can be born. 

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Antiemetic for Homesickness by Romalyn Ante

We’re thrilled to be the Jhalak Prize Bookshop Champion for Romalyn Ante’s ANTIEMETIC FOR HOMESICKNESS, an incredible debut collection that channels the energies of caregiving, folklore, and migration to close the distance between the Philippines and the Black Country Huge congrats to Romalyn for a very well deserved place on the Jhalak Prize shortlist!

‘Ante’s poems are like embers, pared back to a slow-burning emotional core’ — Stephanie Sy-Quia

ANTIEMETIC FOR HOMESICKNESS is in stock now and available to order for collection and nationwide delivery.