• Rainbow Milk

  • A Novel
  • By: Paul Mendez
  • Narrated by: Paul Mendez
  • Length: 11 hrs and 43 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (29 ratings)

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Rainbow Milk  By  cover art

Rainbow Milk

By: Paul Mendez
Narrated by: Paul Mendez
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Publisher's Summary

Nominated for a 34th annual Lambda Literary Award • An essential and revelatory coming-of-age narrative from a thrilling new voice, Rainbow Milk follows nineteen-year-old Jesse McCarthy as he grapples with his racial and sexual identities against the backdrop of his Jehovah's Witness upbringing.

"The kind of novel you never knew you were waiting for." —Marlon James

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.

©2021 Paul Mendez (P)2021 Random House Audio
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: LGBTQ+

Critic Reviews

Finalist for the 2022 Lambda Literary Award for Gay Fiction

Named one of the five best new paperbacks by The New York Times Book Review

Recommended by Jeremy Atherton Lin on Bookshop.org

“The kind of novel you never knew you were waiting for. An explosive work that reels from sex, to sin, to salvation all the while grappling with what it means to black, gay, British, a son, a father, a lover, even a man. A remarkable debut.” - Marlon James, New York Times bestselling author of Black Leopard, Red Wolf  

“When did you last read a novel about a young, black, gay, Jehovah’s Witness man from Wolverhampton who flees his community to make his way in London as a prostitute? This might be a debut, but Mendez is an exciting, accomplished and daring storyteller with a great ear for dialogue. Graphic erotica alert! Don't read this book if you like your fiction cosy and middle-of-the-road.” - Bernardine Evaristo, Booker Prize-winning author of Girl, Woman, Other 

"As with writers like Marlon James and Nicole Dennis-Benn, Mendez’s dialect-writing stretches the boundaries of a language owned by no one. . . . The writing is delicious and subtle throughout, often punctuated by musical references that ground it in the decades it explores." - The New York Times Book Review  

What listeners say about Rainbow Milk

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Narration so bad, I could not enjoy!

I can't say if this is a good book or a bad book.

The author has such a strong accent that the American English listener can't understand it. I had to replay much of it and still couldn't get some of the words. I spent 3 hours listening and that involved rewind and play again parts. I simply couldn't dedicate more time to this as the listen was utterly frustrating. I may try to do this as an actual hardbook cover read. I really only got to about chapter 3 I think.

Just don't waste an Audible credit on this or purchase it on an audio reading device.

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a must listen

I can't say enough about how deeply i felt this book. i mean whew! it's a lot to take in. so much emotion poured into it, so honest and open. it expresses aspects of Blackness that as a Black person you have absolutely thought and felt from childhood on. things you absolutely know and have experienced. it takes all those things and articulates them in the most raw and touching ways. bravo! and truly the reading is *excellent* I'm telling anyone i can who has read but not heard it to also read it via audio. great job, Paul Mendez!

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A breath of fresh air

This book was a refreshing read. Loved it! I could definitely relate to the themes within this book.