How To Say Babylon

How To Say Babylon

Biography & Memoir, Literary Biography & Memoir
Hardback Published on: 03/10/2023
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Bookseller Reviews

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How To Say Babylon
Beautifully harrowing
How to Say Babylon is a harrowing and heartbreaking account of the authors upbringing under her father's oppressive Rastafarian faith. The history of Ja... READ MORE
Victoria at Aviemore
How To Say Babylon
My favourite book of the year
Words cannot express my delight. I fell head-first into this book and barely came up for air until it was finished. This memoir is written like fiction, an... READ MORE
Toni at Brent Cross
How To Say Babylon
Brave and beautiful
This unflinchingly brave and beautiful memoir from poet Saifya Sinclair explores the threads that have shaped her life and the person she has become. This ... READ MORE
Beth at Chesterfield


There was more than one way to be lost, more than one way to be saved.

Born in Montego Bay, Jamaica, where luxury hotels line pristine white sand beaches, Safiya Sinclair grew up guarding herself against an ever-present threat. Preaching fire and brimstone, her father, a volatile reggae musician and strict believer in a militant sect of Rastafari, railed against Babylon, the immoral, corrupting influence of the Western world just beyond their gate. To protect the purity of the women in their family he forbade almost everything: no trousers, no short sleeves and no short skirts, no opinions, nowhere but home and school, no friends but this family and no future but this path.

Rastas were outlawed and ostracized in Jamaica and, in this isolation, Safiya's father's rule was absolute. At home, her mother did what she could to bring the joy of the world beyond to her children with books and poetry. As Safiya's imagination leapt beyond its restrictive borders, soon her burgeoning independence brought with it greater clashes with her ever more radicalised father. Safiya knew that if she was to live at all, she had to find some way to leave home. But in order to carve her own way forward, she had to first make her way back.

In seeking out the past of her family, Safiya Sinclair takes readers inside the world of Rastafari that is little understood by those outside it and delivers an astonishing, personal reckoning with family, history and the legacy of empire. A lyrical memoir of devastating emotional power, How to Say Babylon is a testament to the forces of hope, intellect and imagination that light up every page.

  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • ISBN: 9780008491284
  • Number of pages: 352
  • Weight: 560g
  • Dimensions: 240 x 159 x 31 mm

Customer Reviews

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How To Say Babylon
Stunning Memoir
I was utterly absorbed by this memoir. I didn't know very much at all about Rastafarianism and Sinclair offers us a tremendously powerful journey through h... READ MORE
Katy Wheatley