2015 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize 2015 — Short-listed
As she comes into adulthood, Grace confronts the mystery of her own identity and the story of her birth mother in this sprawling, large-hearted novel.
Growing up on the Caribbean island of St. Chris, Grace Carpenter never feels like she really belongs. Although her large, extended family is black, she is a redibo. Her skin is copper-coloured, her hair is red, and her eyes are grey. A neighbour taunts her, calling her “a little red jacket,” but the reason for the insult is never explained. Only much later does Grace learn the story of her birth mother and decipher the mystery surrounding her true identity.
“A compelling tale of faith and family, ranging from the dusty landscapes of West Africa to the rich flavours of the Caribbean.” — WILL FERGUSON, Giller Prize–winning author of 419
About the author
Toronto writer Pamela Mordecai is also an editor, publisher, teacher, actor, and former TV presenter. A veteran anthologist, she co-edited the ground-breaking collections Jamaica Woman and Her True-True Name, the first collection of fiction by women from English-, French-, and Spanish-speaking Caribbean countries. In 1993 her book Ezra's Goldfish and Other Storypoems was the first winner of the Vic Reid Award, Jamaica's top literary prize for children's literature. She has published two earlier poetry collections, Journey Poem and de Man. Her poems have been selected for numerous anthologies, including The Penguin Book of Caribbean Verse, The Heinemann Anthology of Caribbean Poetry, Eyeing the North Star, Sisters of Caliban, and Wheel and Come Again. Poems from Certifiable have appeared in Descant, Callaloo, The Literary Review, Obsidian, Macomere, and other literary journals in Canada, Jamaica, the US, Germany, and England.
- Short-listed, Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize
This exceptional story of one woman's education, career, and motherhood ... Grace's story of a rise from humble beginnings may feel familiar, but Mordecai never allows it to become cliched.
For those attuned to a Caribbean literary tradition and women’s writing in particular, the echoes of Paule Marshall’s Daughters, Merle Hodge’s Crick Crack, Monkey, and even Jean Rhys’s Wild Sargasso Sea will most certainly be heard in Mordecai’s latest work.
…Red Jacket is an accomplished, intelligent novel…to be savoured for its multiple layers of meaning and—especially—its richness of language.
Quill & Quire
Canadian poet Pamela Mordecai’s first novel moves from the warmth of the Caribbean to the chill of Canada and then to the deserts of West Africa. Fans of Caribbean literature and readers who enjoy sagas of misfortune may find this book captivating.
Red Jacket is successful in that it holds the reader's attention from start to finish and invites us to reflect on many issues that assail us. It is a significant fictional accomplishment.
Maple Tree Literary Supplement
For those attuned to a Caribbean literary tradition and to women’s writing in particular, the echoes of Paule Marshall’s Daughters, Merle Hodge’s Crick Crack and even Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea will most certainly be heard in Mordecai’s book.
Pamela Mordecai is a fearsomely ingenious writer, whose ear for language is equalled by her huge heart’s humanity.
George Elliott Clarke, Governor General's Award–winning author of Execution Poems
A compelling tale of faith and family, ranging from the dusty landscapes of West Africa to the rich flavours of the Caribbean. Pamela Mordecai has made the transition from poetry to prose with an enviable ease.
Will Ferguson, Giller Prize–winning author of 419
A rich and compelling tale about the agony of being made to feel different and the elusiveness of belonging.
Rachel Manley, Governor General's Award–winning author of the Drumblair trilogy
If there is a smelting room of the English language, if there is an iron table where syntax and breath are shone, here is where Pam Mordecai works her glittering materials.
Dionne Brand, Griffin Poetry Award–winning author of Ossuaries
Alternately heart-wrenching, clever and very real, this novel tackles issues that are relevant on both a personal and global level.
The Guelph Mercury