These two stories build into a novel of huge power and emotional impact, written in language that is sharp, distinctive and often beautiful. 2020 has been a year of superb debuts and Rainbow Milk is among the best.
Rainbow Milk is not for the faint-hearted. But it is more real and generous than most contemporary novels, intoxicating in its jeopardy and lust. And while it is raw and unfiltered — and occasionally overstuffed — Mendez’s writing also bears the imprint of much British realist literature about queer life. You can see here the echoes of his partner, Alan Hollinghurst, in the wickedly funny social observation (“I adored the use of Janacek’s The Madonna of Frydek” is one snatch of literary repartee), the long, emotional reflections on music and literature, and — naturally — the graphic sex. It actually makes The Line of Beauty look like The Archers. I learnt what “gargling” is.