Time Come

Linton Kwesi Johnson

13 April 2023
435 pages


A Financial Times Music Book of the Year 2023

'Key to understanding black British history' - Sunday Times
'Sharp and still relevant' - Zadie Smith

Recognized as one of the great poets of modern times, and as a deeply respected and influential political and cultural activist and social critic, Linton Kwesi Johnson is also a prolific writer of non-fiction. In Time Come, he selects some of his most powerful prose – book and record reviews published in newspapers and magazines, lectures, obituaries and speeches – for the first time. Written over many decades, it is a body of work that draws creatively and critically on Johnson’s own Jamaican roots and on Caribbean history to explore the politics of race that continue to inform the Black British experience.

Ranging from reflections on the place of music in Caribbean and Black British culture as a creative, defiant response to oppression, to his penetrating appraisals of music and literature, and including warm tributes paid to the activists and artists who inspired him to find his own voice as a poet and compelled him to contribute to the struggle for racial equality and social justice, Time Come is a panorama of an exceptional life. A collection that ventures into memoir, it underscores Johnson’s enduring importance in Britain’s cultural history and reminds us of his brilliant, unparalleled legacy.

With an introduction by Paul Gilroy, author of There Ain't No Black in the Union Jack
'A mosaic of wise, urgent and moving pieces' - Kit de Waal
'As necessary as ever' - The Observer
'A book to be savoured and re-read' - Derek Owusu
'An outstanding collection' - Caryl Phillips
'A necessary book from a writer who continues to inspire' - Yomi Sode
'Incisive, engaging, fearless' - Gary Younge

Linton Kwesi Johnson brought the aural poetry of Jamaican speech to 'H'england' and captured it in verse. He contributed a sharp and still relevant analysis of class dynamics to our literature. Oh, and he also made music from words. Thank you, Linton!
An outstanding collection which speaks to the extraordinary achievement of the voice of my generation. Like all great artists, Linton Kwesi Johnson wasn't called - he simply arrived. For his time, and for the ages.
LKJ provided the soundtrack to my youth but these writings are more than nostalgic. Written with humility and generosity, this mosaic of wise, urgent and moving pieces document an important time in British Caribbean history, the emergence of our music, our culture, our heroes and our political history. I loved it.