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Paul Mendez Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Paul Mendez
Paul Mendez was born in the year 1982 in the Black Country, where he also grew up. His family is a very working class, second generation Jamaican immigrant family. They lived on a majority white, working class estate and Paul was raised a Jehovah’s Witness.

This was his life until the age of seventeen. In school, he showed a lot of promise, however didn’t take any academic ambitions too seriously. He was expelled out of his accommodation when he was seventeen, having lied about being drunk, something that they took seriously and excluded him for. Paul was never allowed to associate with anybody he had grown up with.

At the age of twenty-two, he moved to London so that he could begin acting, and became a sex worker to pay his bills, and have a life. Quickly, things unraveled. He quit his course however started writing and stayed in London. He has worked in restaurants, doing journalism here and there whenever he was able, and writing. His writing started out as autobiographical stuff that became like a memoir, in a way.

He never meant for it to be a book, however when he heard his friend Sharmaine Lovegrove was becoming a publisher at Little, Brown, he put a manuscript together based on tiny fragments he had collected over fifteen years. He put it all together in a style that could be considered a narrative and got the chance to write a novel.

The actual idea to write a novel came from reading writers Donna Tartt and James Baldwin during the summer of 2002, then Proust and Alan Hollinghurst a few years later. From then on, Paul knew that he wanted to become a writer.

The first character that Paul created for “Rainbow Milk” was Norman. He is roughly based off of Paul’s grandfather who he never knew, nor did Paul’s dad ever know either. Paul only knew some sketchy things about his grandfather, and improvised him. Since his grandfather went blind, Paul would blindfold himself in his bedroom and walk around his house and just record himself speaking in Jamaican patois, talking about what life could have been like for him. Then he transcribed that into something he was able to use.

Having Jesse and Norman’s separate narratives happened by accident. He had a realization that he could tie these two together. It was a decision that happened late in the writing process.

Paul has always written for catharsis just as much as any other reason, just as a way to explain how things were going for himself and keep in touch with himself. Readers can tell when he is kind of bleeding and attempting to heal through writing. Even more experienced readers will be able to feel the rawness in his words. He always writes in first person, and one way he distanced himself from this story was to write it in the third person.

Another way he distanced himself was to make the father figure an adoptive dad. He created Graham, Jesse’s father. Making him an adoptive dad, he did not even need to be all that different from Paul’s own dad, since he is white. This changed everything entirely and it gave the novel a wholly different point of view in terms of Jesse’s tastes, his sexuality, and the people he went for as well as fatherhood.

His manuscript wound up being five months late. He handed it in, but two days later sent an email to his publisher telling them to stop reading, and he wanted to rewrite the entire thing in third person and he did from scratch, over the course of two months.

Paul likes doing everything to music, as it puts him in a place where he is able to relax and concentrate at the same time. As a result, music plays such a big role in the novel. “Freak Like Me” by Sugababes was a song that helped keep him going while writing.

He has been a performing member of two different theater companies, and worked as a voice actor, appearing on audiobooks by Ian Wright, Paul Theroux, Ben Okri, and Andrea Levy.

As a writer, he has contributed to Glass, The Face, the Brixton Review of Books, Vogue, and the Times Literary Supplement.

Paul’s debut novel, called “Rainbow Milk”, was released in the year 2020. It was shortlisted for the Gordon Burn Prize and was featured in the Observer’s prestigious Top Ten Debut Novels list.

“Rainbow Milk” is the first stand alone novel and was released in the year 2020. This is an intersectional coming-of-age tale, that follows Jesse McCarthy, nineteen years old, while he wrestles with his sexual and racial identities against the backdrop of his Jehovah’s Witness upbringing and the legacies from the Windrush generation.

During the fifties in the Black Country, Norman Alonso, a former boxer is a humble and determined Jamaican that has moved to Britain with his wife in order to secure a much brighter future for their kids and themselves. Norman, who is blighted with an unexpected illness and racism, are resilient in the face of these hostilities, however they are much too aware that they are going to need more than their hope in order to survive.

Jesse, at the millennium’s turn, looks for a fresh start in London, escaping his broken immediate family, the disempowered and desolate Black Country, and a repressive religious community. However he finds himself at a loss for a new center of gravity, so he turns to sex work in order to create new notions of fatherhood, love, and spirituality.

This novel is a bold exploration of class, race, sexuality, religion, and freedom across time, generations, and cultures. Paul Mendez is a fervent new author with an urgent and original voice. Readers found this to be one of the most beautiful, wisest, and ambitious debut novels out there. It feels like a dream, even though you are unsure whether it is a nightmare that you just want to wake up from. Paul is a talented writer, with Norman’s perspective standing in stark contrast to Jesse’s, however Paul’s storytelling often takes on a surprisingly experimental turn, which is exhilarating.

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