Kei Miller - The Same Earth
(Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
Kei Miller, a recent addition to the teaching staff on Glasgow University’s Creative Writing course, is under 30 and of the male persuasion. So the ease with which he tells this homely collection of life stories, with a narrative voice evocative of a wise old woman storyteller, without being patronising or trite, is impressive.
Set in and around Watersgate, Jamaica from the 1940s to 80s, the minor plots and petty intrigues of the story (appointing a new church Deacon, the theft of some pants, moving to England) are second to the ebb and flow of the lives and relationships of the inhabitants. Rather, it is a meandering biography of a Jamaican village. Although not immediately arresting, this lyrical sketch of a community gradually lures the reader with its often crystalline imagery, fully-formed characters, and immense warmth, burbling along pleasingly in a way that the Alexander McCall Smith series (with which comparisons are inevitable) doesn’t.