We were able to welcome many old members and new to our October meeting when the book under discussion was Red Dust Road by Jackie Kay.
This was the poet’s autobiography about growing up as a half Nigerian, half Scottish child with her adoptive Scottish Communist parents after the Second World War and about finding her birth parents.
Whilst the theme was interesting, and there were glimpses of good writing in the book, we all felt that the subject matter was actually rather slight for a full length book – perhaps a novella or short story would have been better. It was good to hear about how excellent her upbringing was by her adoptive parents, but little effort was made to really fill out their characters and discuss in any real detail the problems and prejudice they would have undoubtedly encountered. Concern was also voiced about the way there was considerable detail about Jackie’s relationship with her flamboyant Nigerian father, but little about her Scottish mother – almost as if an “ordinary” person was not what she needed for her story. It also seemed strange to us that, after detailing her searches for her birth parents, it was clear that once she had found them she barely kept in touch with them – there were many years between each contact with them. Also there was almost no discussion of the gender prejudice that we felt she would have inevitably encountered because she is lesbian.
Our conclusion is that this was a slight book that was adequately written, but that there are far better books to read.
Our next meeting will be on Thursday 4 December at 2pm in the library at Scarlet when the books under discussion will be two classic tales; The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemmingway and Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy.
New members are always welcome – if you wish to know more, please email Judith at: Jkaylit@hotmail.com