Red Jacket

Pamela Mordecai. TAP Books/Dundurn (IPG, U.S. dist.; University of Toronto Press, Canadian dist.), $24.99 trade paper (464p) ISBN 978-1-4597-2940-7
This is the first full-length work of fiction from Mordecai, a widely published poet, critic, and short fiction author. Beginning on the fictional island of St. Christopher (reminiscent of Jamaica) in the late 1960s, the novel follows Grace Carpenter, the titular "red jacket" (illegitimate) child, through her life as the only adopted child in a large family. This exceptional story of one woman's education, career, and motherhood is written largely in St. Chris Creole, which reads as linguistic "rock-and-roll... crissing and crossing from English English, to Creole Creole, and hitting all notes in between." Mordecai interweaves Grace's narrative with the personal histories of the mother who gave her up but never forgot her, her adoptive family, and two of the most important men in her life: Mark Blackman, the chancellor at the university in St. Chris, and James Nathaniel Atule, a Jesuit whom she meets through her work fighting the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Grace's story of a rise from humble beginnings may feel familiar, but Mordecai never allows it to become clich├ęd. The novel manages to strike a balance between the bleak awfulness of Grace's life and the lush beauty of it. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 05/04/2015
Release date: 04/01/2015
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 400 pages - 978-1-4597-2941-4
Open Ebook - 400 pages - 978-1-4597-2942-1
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