Red Dust Road
Jackie Kay Pages: 289 Published: 2010
The book: Jackie Kay was born in Scotland. Her birth mother was white and her birth father was a black Nigerian student. She was adopted when she was a baby by a white Scottish couple who were members of the communist party. This is the story of Jackie’s search for her birth parents. Jackie Kay is Scotland’s Macher (Poet Laureate).
You might like it because: It’s a wonderful memoir focused on family, identity, culture and what it is that makes us who we are. Kay’s writing is beautiful. The memoir is funny, sad, and poignant. It’ll have you crying and laughing out loud.
What did other people say?
“Clear-eyed, witty and unsentimental…Happiness shines through.” – Sunday Times (UK)
“Jackie Kay’s poetry readings have audiences alternatively weeping with laughter and just weeping, and her autobiography in search of her blood parents does the same.”
– Guardian (UK)
“Literary memoirs are ten a penny, but occasionally one arrives that is so full of the joys, heartbreak and idiosyncrasies of everyday life that it’s worth reading. Just such a book is Red Dust Road.” – Big Issue (UK)
Awards & Recognition:
Scottish Book Awards- Book of the Year 2011
How quickly will you get into the book? Kay begins her memoir in Nigeria, where she first meets her birth father. Her vivid prose pulled me in quickly and, by page four, I was not going to stop reading.
You might not like it because: Kay tells her story in a non-linear, non-chronological way, so we jump back and forth in time. Some readers might prefer a more straightforward chronological telling of her story.
What might you read next?
Now that you’ve read Kay’s memoir, why not pick up her novel Trumpet, where some of the themes from her memoir are played out in the story.
Or read another memoir written by a person with one black parent and one white parent. This one begins in apartheid South Africa. Read Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime.
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