June 9, 2021

Paul Mendez

Harvard Book Store and GrubStreet welcome acclaimed writer PAUL MENDEZ for a discussion of his debut novel, Rainbow Milk. He will be joined in conversation by BRYAN WASHINGTON, author of the bestselling Lot: Stories and Memorial: A Novel.


In the 1950s, ex-boxer Norman Alonso is a determined and humble Jamaican who has immigrated to Britain with his wife and children to secure a brighter future. Blighted with unexpected illness and racism, Norman and his family are resilient, but are all too aware that their family will need more than just hope to survive in their new country.

At the turn of the millennium, Jesse seeks a fresh start in London, escaping a broken immediate family, a repressive religious community and his depressed hometown in the industrial Black Country. But once he arrives he finds himself at a loss for a new center of gravity, and turns to sex work, music and art to create his own notions of love, masculinity and spirituality.

A wholly original novel as tender as it is visceral, Rainbow Milk is a bold reckoning with race, class, sexuality, freedom and religion across generations, time and cultures.

About Author(s)

Paul Mendez is a London-based novelist, essayist and screenwriter. Born in 1982 and raised Jehovah’s Witness in the Black Country, Mendez disassociated himself from the Witnesses while still a teenager. After reading James Baldwin’s Tell Me How Long the Train’s Been Gone, Mendez began keeping a journal while employed variously in sex work, waitering, voice work and journalism. He has contributed to GlassEsquireThe FaceVogue, the Times Literary Supplement and the Brixton Review of Books.

Bryan Washington is a National Book Award 5 Under 35 honoree, and winner of the Dylan Thomas Prize, the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence, and The New York Times Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award. His first book, the story collection Lot, was a finalist for the NBCC’s John Leonard Prize, the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize, and the Aspen Words Literary Prize. Lot was a New York Times Notable Book and on best-of-the-year lists from TimeNPRVanity FairBuzzFeed, and many more. He has written for The New Yorker, the New York TimesThe New York Times MagazineBuzzFeedVultureThe Paris Review, and many other publications. He lives in Houston.