The Scottish Book Awards 2011: Red Dust Road by Jackie Kay

The Scottish Book Awards 2011So let’s kick things off! In July I will be giving away the four titles that have been shortlisted for The Scottish Book Awards 2011 – find out how to enter the giveaway here! In the non-fiction category, Jackie Kay’s Red Dust Road is one of these titles and I reviewed it a couple of months ago…

Jackie Kay‘s writing oozes ‘normality’, it’s unashamedly honest and at times unapologetically simple. But her personal life has been neither normal nor simple, and her identity has very much influenced her work; a Scottish poet and writer, Kay was born in Edinburgh to a Nigerian father and a Scottish mother. She was adopted at birth by a communist white couple and was brought up in Glasgow.

In Red Dust Road: An Autobiographical Journey, Kay tells us about the journey she took to trace her birth parents. Her journey is a metaphorical and physical one: from Glasgow to Milton Keynes to Aberdeen to Nigeria and back again, to the forked roads and the roads not taken and the long winding roads. Emotionally, the journey is a difficult one, and Kay doesn’t take the easy route. Continue reading

The Scottish Book Awards 2011 Giveaway

To celebrate the 39th year of The Scottish Book Awards, hosted by Creative Scotland, I will be hosting a giveaway!

In the month of July, you will be given the chance to win all of the four titles shortlisted for this years award. Each of which exemplify Scottish literary excellence:

The Scottish Book Awards Creative Scotland 2011

  • Leila Aboulela, Lyrics Alley (fiction)
  • Jackie Kay, Red Dust Road (non-fiction)
  • Stewart Conn, The Breakfast Room (poetry)
  • Sue Peebles, The Death of Lomond Freil (first book)

The winner of the The Scottish Book Awards will have their book named Scottish Book of the Year, and the author will win a whopping £25,000. What’s more, for the first time in the history of the awards, you will be responsible for choosing a winner. The public vote will commence on the 16 May and end on 31 July 2011. So get voting here!! Continue reading

Review: Red Dust Road by Jackie Kay

Jackie Kay‘s writing oozes ‘normality’, it’s unashamedly honest and at times unapologetically simple. But her personal life has been neither normal nor simple, and her identity has very much influenced her work; a Scottish poet and writer, Kay was born in Edinburgh to a Nigerian father and a Scottish mother. She was adopted at birth by a communist white couple and was brought up in Glasgow.

In Red Dust Road: An Autobiographical Journey, Kay tells us about the journey she took to trace her birth parents. Her journey is a metaphorical and physical one: from Glasgow to Milton Keynes to Aberdeen to Nigeria and back again, to the forked roads and the roads not taken and the long winding roads. Emotionally, the journey is a difficult one, and Kay doesn’t take the easy route. At an important stage of the story, she ignores advice and chooses to travel to her father’s village of Ukpor by road instead of flying. After the dangerous twelve-hour journey Kay’s journey ends with her finding her imagined red-dust road, and more:

The road welcomes me; it is benevolent, warm, friendly, accepting and for now it feels enough, the red, red of it, the vivid green against it, the long and winding red-dust road.

But it’s not just a search for genealogy, as the blood imagery of the red-dust road might suggest; it’s the search for a greater truth:

“This question fascinates me,” I say, leaning forward in my chair to be closer to him. “Nature or nurture?”

Throughout the book Kay indulges us with humorous, touching anecdotes about being a black adopted child with white parents in Scotland during the 60’s and 70’s, as well as her experience of being pregnant, and family, secrets, memories and religion, but it falls short of delving into the deepest recesses of her private life. I craved an insight into her sexual identity and personal relationships, particularly with Carole Anne Duffy to which she provides only one heart-breaking insight (“she didn’t love me anymore”). But the exclusion of the ‘juicy details’ only makes it clear that Kay doesn’t define herself by her sexuality or her relationships. And why should she, kiss-and-tell isn’t exactly Continue reading