Changing Lives With Literature

Changing Lives With Literature

Every so often a book comes along that has the power to change lives. Professor Jackie Kay’s memoir Red Dust Road is one such book.

Named Scottish Book of the Year in 2011, it details Jackie’s childhood in Glasgow. Her realisation that her skin is a different colour to that of her beloved mother and father and the search to find her birth parents.

Professor Jackie Kay
Photo of Professor Jackie Kay

Jackie, Professor of Creative Writing at Newcastle University, is an engaging writer who has a very significant story to tell about trans-racial adoption.

Her writing speaks to many different groups of people, giving rise to discussions around:    

  • adoption
  • ethnicity and
  • diversity

She has a complicated take on her ethnicity in that she is female, Scottish and black and at her many public engagements she talks movingly about the fact that you don’t need to choose simply one identity.

Influencing the adoption process

Red Dust Road is unusual for a memoir in that, along with being an excellent literary work, it has also become an important reference tool for social policy makers, offering a very human take on the complexities involved.

It is also a recommended read for people considering trans-racial adoption.

Jackie is a key member of Newcastle Centre for Literary Arts (NCLA) staff, and took part in many events around Red Dust Road on campus and further afield.

World Book Night

Red Dust Road was one of 20 books to be selected for World Book Night last April, when hundreds of thousands of free books are given to people who don’t regularly read.

The judges who selected it said: "Jackie Kay is one of our greatest poets and this is, quite simply, her story. Of growing up, of wanting to know where we come from, who we are, and of what happens when we discover the truth. Beautiful and brilliant."


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Contact Information

Professor Jackie Kay MBE
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 3689