Jacaranda Books is to publish Breaking the Maafa Chain, the debut novel by Shakespearean actor Anni Domingo, this autumn.
Based on the true story of abolitionist and Queen Victoria’s goddaughter, Sarah Forbes Bonetta, the historical fiction novel follows two sisters who are sold into slavery. One is sent to America and the other becomes the goddaughter of Queen Victoria, exploring the experience of Black Britons in the royal family.
Completed at the Hedgebrook Writing Centre in Seattle, Breaking the Maafa Chain’s first draft was shortlisted for the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize in 2014 and won the Myriad Editions First Draft Competition in 2018. An extract of the novel was included in the New Daughters of Africa (Myriad Editions) anthology edited by Margret Busby, which was published in 2019. The full book will be published on 23rd September 2021.
Discussion around the historical significance of Sarah Forbes Bonetta has grown in recent years, with English Heritage honouring her with a commissioned portrait by Hana Uzor as part of a series celebrating often overlooked Black British figures in history. A film based on her life is also currently in production, starring film and theatre actor Cynthia Erivo in the main role.
Jacaranda publisher, founder and c.e.o. Valerie Brandes, who acquired world rights for the book directly from the author, said: "It was a sheer delight to have received Anni Domingo's novel on submission and once I started reading it, I couldn't put it down. Anni's book looks at the confluence of the transatlantic slave trade and the ravages of poverty on families in Victorian Britain, at the African slavers and the British abolitionists (two sides of the argument we have not often seen in literature), and at its heart is the story of the love and bond of two sisters, cruelly separated. It's an epic, eye-opening work, unique in its intimacy and exposition of a vivid cast of characters, real and imagined."
Domingo is an actor, director and writer, working across radio, TV, films and theatre after training at Rose Bruford College of Speech & Drama. She appeared in Inua Ellam’s "Three Sisters", a play set in Nigeria during the Biafran War, at the National Theatre (UK), and toured Robert Icke’s "The Doctor to Australia" early in 2020. She currently lectures in drama and directing at St Mary’s University in Twickenham, Rose Bruford College, and at RADA. Her poems and short stories are published in various anthologies.
She said: "Jacaranda acquiring Breaking the Maafa Chain has made my dream become a reality."