A brave and pioneering treatment of sexual identity in Caribbean literature, this novel, first published in 1960, follows the fortunes of Johnnie Sobert, a Jamaican exile who works in London at a club that caters to black American servicemen. In flight from his dominant, possessive mother, he immerses himself in the bohemian Soho scene and adopts a wisecracking persona as a cover for his deep-seated insecurities. Adding to Johnnie’s confusion is the fact that when he is not at work, he navigates a completely different life in Hempstead, where he lives in a bedsitter and carries on an unsatisfying affair with his white landlady, Fiona. These two worlds provide a lively portrait of Britons reacting to the growing presence of blacks and Asians in their neighborhoods, and Johnnie takes lessons from each place. By the time he finally decides to move in with his gay friend, Dick, he is much better equipped with self-awareness–but he has yet to make a decision about where his desires truly lie.
Andrew Salkey (30 January 1928 – 28 April 1995) was a novelist, poet, children's books writer and journalist of Jamaican and Panamanian origin. He was born in Panama but raised in Jamaica, moving to Britain in the 1950s to pursue university education. A prolific writer and editor, he was the author of more than 30 books in the course of his career, including novels for adults and for children, poetry collections, anthologies, travelogues and essays. He died in Amherst, Massachusetts, where he had been teaching since the 1970s, holding a lifetime position as Writer-In-Residence at Hampshire College.