SMALL JOYS is an extraordinary debut that has been described as Sally Rooney’s NORMAL PEOPLE meets Dolly Alderton’s GHOSTS. It featured in the Bookseller as Editor’s choice, and was pre-empted by Scribner in the UK and Ballantine in the US for publication in March 2023 – you can read the announcement here. SMALL JOYS charts the evolving friendship between Harley, a Black, gay, working-class young man dealing with mental health issues, and his flatmate Muddy – who changes his life forever.
It’s 2005 in Kent and Harley is a triple threat: black, gay, and working class. Oh, and he’s just dropped out of University, after lying to his estranged dad and claiming that he was training to become a Chemical Engineer. Moving back in with his friend Chelsea, and in the midst of an unfulfilling affair with an older white man (who may or may not be a racist), he’s feeling lost. But when his attempt to finally end things is disturbed by his flatmate, Muddy, his perspective on life changes. Muddy is everything Harley isn’t: confident in his masculinity, ostensibly heterosexual, and warm and uncomplicated. Slowly their friendship blossoms as Muddy introduces Harley to things he loves – birdwatching, rugby, Oasis – and Harley starts to wonder if there is a future for him after all. In turns a moving depiction of mental health, queerness, and intersectionality as well as a laugh-out-loud funny keenly observed exploration of growing up and learning who you are.
Elvin James Mensah is a 27-year-old British-Ghanaian writer born and raised in South East London. He received his Bachelor of Arts in English and Journalism from Bournemouth University, where he began writing his first novel. When not writing about blackness and queerness, he can be found voraciously explaining either the interconnectivity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to his long-suffering friends, or the everlasting cultural impact of the Spice Girls. His other hobbies include drinking copious amounts of Capri Sun and re-reading Donna Tartt and Hanya Yanigihara novels. Elvin is represented by Juliet Mushens at Mushens Entertainment, and SMALL JOYS will be published by Scribner in the UK as a lead title in March 2023.