meilufay’s #CBR4 review #83 Red Dust Road by Jackie Kay
If you read only one book based on my recommendation, then make it this wonderful wonderful memoir.
Jackie Kay is a black, lesbian poet who was raised by her adoptive, communist parents in a small, predominantly white town in Scotland. This memoir covers her journey to find her biological parents. But that description does not adequately capture Jackie Kay’s warmth, wisdom and humor in taking on issues of identity, of nationality, of ethnicity and, most importantly, of what constitutes family. This book is by turns laugh out loud funny, heartbreaking and heartwarming. I am now officially in love with Jackie Kay and I think if you read her book, you would fall in love with her, too.
It’s not even possible for me to do justice to how amazing this book was, to how it made me laugh and cry, to how it made me feel just a little bit wiser, to how enriched I feel for having read it. All I can do is urge you to read it.
Here’s are two of my favorite quotes from the book:
“It is not so much that being black in a white country means that people don’t accept you as, say, Scottish; it is that being black in a white country makes you a stranger to yourself.”
“[You] can find yourself being touchy or defensive, even when someone does not mean [to be racist], or does not know that he is being offensive. […] Where are you from, people have asked all my life. I used to just say Glasgow. Then they’d say and where are your parents from? And I used to say Glasgow and Fife, which was the truth, but not the one they were looking for. Sometimes I’d say, I’m adopted, my original father was from Nigeria, and they’d nod, with a kind of a ‘That explains it’ look on their face.”