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Escape to an Autumn Pavement

Johnnie Sobert is a brown Jamaican who earns his living as a barman in a Soho club. Sobert is a man divided: between Black and White; between class identities; between heterosexual and homosexual desires; between being an exiled Jamaican and an incipient Black Londoner.


Andrew Salkey
Caribbean Modern Classics, Novel
United Kingdom
Date published
1 May 2009

Against the background of bedsitter Hampstead and bohemian Soho, Sobert attempts to be, as he describes himself, a ‘nigger with coolth’ but the reality is that his wisecracking persona is an all too transparent cover for his uncertainties. He embarks on an unsatisfactory affair with his landlady, Fiona, which makes him uncomfortably aware of the stereotype of black desire for ‘white pussy’, and then goes to live with his gay friend Dick. The novel ends with Johnnie yet to make a decision about where his desires really lie.

Introduction by Thomas Glave.

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Andrew Salkey

Andrew Salkey was born in Colon, Panama in 1928 of Jamaican parents. He was brought up in Jamaica by his mother and grandparents, his father remaining in Panama, but supporting the family financially. Salkey did not meet his father until 1960, and his work returns to the theme of mothers and sons frequently. He was educated at Munro College in Jamaica, left to attend the University of London in 1952, where he did a BA in English. He taught in school and worked as a broadcaster for the BBC on the Caribbean Voices programme. He was deeply involved in the Caribbean Artists Movement. He left the UK in 1976 when he relocated to Hampshire College in Amherst. He died in 1995.

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