Book of the Month – July 2020

The Half-God of Rainfall by Inua Ellams

The Half God of Rainfall by Inua Ellams

Winner of the Hay Festival Medal for Poetry 2020

As basketball courts across the country begin to open again, Inua will be joining us online at 7pm on Tuesday 21 July to talk about the book in a Hay Festival Digital special event. You can link directly from this tile on the day.

From the award-winning poet and playwright behind Barber Shop Chronicles, The Half-God of Rainfall is an epic story and a lyrical exploration of pride, power and female revenge.

There is something about Demi. When this boy is angry, rain clouds gather. When he cries, rivers burst their banks and the first time he takes a shot on a basketball court, the deities of the land take note.

His mother, Modupe, looks on with a mixture of pride and worry. From close encounters, she knows Gods often act like men: the same fragile egos, the same unpredictable fury and the same sense of entitlement to the bodies of mortals.

She will sacrifice everything to protect her son, but she knows the Gods will one day tire of sports fans, their fickle allegiances and misdirected prayers. When that moment comes, it won’t matter how special he is. Only the women in Demi’s life, the mothers, daughters and Goddesses, will stand between him and a lightning bolt.

Read it? Loved it? Let us know on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram using #HayBookoftheMonth.

Buy the book

Alternatively, please buy the book from your local bookshop or borrow it from your local library. Please check opening times and availabilities in advance. It’s available to download from your regular e-booksellers.

Hay Player: Inua Ellams talks to Peter Florence at Hay Festival Abu Dhabi, February 2020

Further reading...

“In the UK black men were thought of as animalistic”, Guardian

About the author

The poet, playwright, performer and designer is one of the most celebrated contemporary creators in the UK for the wide-ranging nature of his work. He is a Member of the Royal Society of Literature and an ambassador for the Ministry of Stories, an organisation that fosters the potential of 8- to 18-year-olds as writers. After publishing four poetry books and receiving the Fringe First Prize at the Edinburgh International Theatre Festival for his first play The 14th Tale, Ellams sold out his run at the National Theatre and on the world tour with Barber Shop Chronicles. His verse play The Half God of Rainfall, a work in verse that mixes Greek, Nigerian and basketball mythology, opened in March 2019 to great critical acclaim. In December 2019 the National Theatre presented his breathtaking Chekov adaptation, Three Sisters, set in the Biafran war. In addition to his intense graphic and literary output, Ellams has founded The Midnight Run, an urban tour from dusk to dawn, and RAP parties that combine poetry slam with urban music.

About Hay Festival's Book of the Month

Hay Festival's Book of the Month is our monthly recommendation of a title we've loved and think holds added resonance today. While many recommendations celebrate the new, this is a chance to celebrate great works of fiction, non-fiction and poetry – new and old – that reaches through time to touch the present.

Throughout the month, we'll share interesting links and articles relating to our selection on social media using #HayBookoftheMonth and invite you all to get involved with your questions and comments.

Over on Hay Player, a special playlist of talks to view online offer additional perspectives on the books from some of the greatest writers and thinkers around the world.

If you'd like to recommend a book for consideration, please email publicity@hayfestival.org.

Happy reading!