Things I Have Withheld: Essays by Kei Miller (Canongate Press)

Tears in the Fence

This is a stirring and insightful collection of essays that often reads like a travelogue or reportage; that is that its prerogatives are not speculative or theoretical. Kei Miller from Jamaica, who studied and has taught in Britain, has been lauded for his poetry, especiallyThe Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion(2014).

I was a little reminded of Martin AmisVisiting Mrs Nabokov, which similarly is in a kind of reporter’s prose conveying and getting back about places he’s visited, people seen. Miller’s essays cover a lot of ground, from Jamaica to Trinidad to Kenya to Ghana.

Reflecting I’d say the main points coming through are to get a bit of local colour, sometimes not without its hazards, in some of these places; and to take measure of Miller’s insistence on his embodiment, no ivory tower here, and the culture and politics of racial or ethnic…

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