My rating: 3 of 5 stars
From BBC Radio 4 – Book of the Week:
The poet Hannah Lowe reads from her memoir about her Jamaican father and her relationship with him during her childhood in Essex. Using a notebook found after his death and letters and interviews with family, she recreates his childhood and young adult years in the decades before he met her mother.
Jamaica, 1935: a young boy is repeatedly beaten by his Chinese father. Both man and boy are drawn to the throw of the dice. Decades later, a young woman in Ilford mourns the death of her gambling father.
‘Mum, am I half-caste ?’ The author’s parents were an unlikely combination – her mother a white, English teacher from Essex, and her father, twenty-three years older, an immigrant gambler from Jamaica.
In Jamaica, a mother rejects her son. Years later, in Ilford, a daughter disavows her father. But the pull of home remains almost as strong as the lure of rice and peas or the throw of the dice.
A family trip to Jamaica reveals more of a family than anticipated.
A young woman forges her own path. Chick dwindles before his family’s eyes, but his daughter’s gaze is focussed elsewhere.
Read by the author, Hannah Lowe, with recreated and imagined sections of Chick’s life read by Colin Salmon.
Abridged and produced by Jill Waters
A Waters Company production for BBC Radio 4.