My Mother, Not Myself

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Red Dust Road: An Autobiographical Journey  by Jackie KayRed Dust Road: An Autobiographical Journey
by Jackie Kay
Atlas & Co.  304 pages, $24.

 

AWARD-WINNING Scottish poet, playwright, educator, and novelist Jackie Kay may not yet have the name recognition in the U.S. that she deserves, but Queen Elizabeth appreciates her: in 2006, she was awarded the MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) for her service to literature. Kay’s exuberant personality makes this all-too-brief memoir come alive. Born in 1961 in Edinburgh, her mother was a Scottish nursing student, her father a Nigerian agriculture student in a university exchange program, the two having met at a dance in Aberdeen. Social pressures being what they were in those days, she was put up for adoption. Years later, when in her early twenties, Kay met writer Audre Lorde, who assured her she could be “proudly African and Scottish, and that [Kay] should embrace both. One need not exclude the other, she said in her decisive drawl.”

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