- 25 July 2006
This article is from 2006.
Jackie Kay possesses a literary Midas touch. Having embarked on a career as a playwright, the Scots-born author proceeded to enthral readers and gather awards by the armload in the late 80s and early 90s with her poignant, lyrical collections of poetry such as The Adoption Papers. In 1998, Kay scored legions of new readers and widespread critical acclaim for her first novel, Trumpet, a haunting account of the life of US jazz player, Billy Tipton, who was found on his death in 1989 to have been a woman.
Effortlessly leaping genres, Kay followed up this triumph with a unique collection of short stories, Why Don't You Stop Talking, in which a series of female characters' emotional lives were given physical expression. Among these memorable protagonists, the oldest woman in Scotland seethed dutifully and scornfully at her 107th birthday party, while a hard done-by mother morphed into a tortoise and sought shelter in the
Kay's new collection of shorts, Wish I Was Here, takes as its subject love in all its quiet triumphs and heart-shattering defeats. Again, she focuses on an array of characters in order to point up the tough job of staying in love. But any bleakness is leavened by Kay's deft touch as a
writer. It seems that in short stories, Kay has happened on a form that combines the broad canvas of fiction with the economy of poetry. (Allan Radcliffe)
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