Losing the Plot

Derek Owusu

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Canongate Books Ltd
3 November 2022
160 pages

From the publisher

A vital and honest book exploring the pain of the immigrant experience and the turmoil it can carry across generations, from the winner of the Desmond Elliott Prize

Driven by a deep-seated desire to understand his mother’s life before he was born, Derek Owusu offers a powerful imagining of her journey. As she moves from Ghana to the UK and navigates parenthood in a strange and often lonely environment, the effects of displacement are felt across generations.

Told through the eyes of both mother and son, Losing the Plot is at once emotionally raw and playful as Owusu experiments with form to piece together the immigrant experience and explore how the stories we share and tell ourselves are just as vital as the ones we don’t.

“Derek Owusu is a writer of rare empathy, intensity and allure. This brief verse novel, in untranslated Twi and various registers of English, observes the inner life of an exhausted immigrant mother, notions of cultural disinheritance, and mutable identities. Losing the Plot both recalls and expands upon classics of Black motherhood like Buchi Emecheta’s Second Class Citizen and Joan Riley’s Waiting in the Twilight

“A highly enigmatic, affectionate and robustly written portrayal of a mother-son relationship and … very relatable”

Losing The Plot is as tender as it is truthful, it is a profound and generous work of love and a salute to our mothers. Derek Owusu is such a brilliant and succinct writer and a warm and compelling story teller. This book took me home”

Losing the Plot by Derek Owusu is earthed in love, curiosity, and interlinked story of mother and son, Twi & English, Owusu takes risks with a joy that makes his prose soar! I have so much time for Owusu’s voice, an inimitable talent!”

Losing the Plot is a polyphonic homestone, with intertextual conduits that are funny, poignant … The multi-layered perspectives feel like an internal dialogue, a mind racing, foiling pace… There is space too, arms stretching into blank page that reveal a type of poetry that we rarely see, a poetics of scattering … Derek has honoured a lot of people, often uncelebrated women, by writing this book. Losing the Plot asks who was my mother before I, and who is she now? Through everything, there is music, a disco of praise, gently comforting, a sense of self that surrounds us as we move”