One day Colin Grant’s teenage brother Christopher failed to emerge from the bathroom. His family broke down the door to find him unconscious on the floor. None of their lives were ever the same again. Christopher was diagnosed with epilepsy.
A Smell of Burning tells the remarkable story of this strange and misunderstood disorder. How certain people, at a particular moment in their life, start to suffer seizures, often preceded by an aura, of which a smell of burning is one of the most common.
To his fellow West Indians who assemble every weekend for the all-night poker game at Mrs Knight's, he is always known as Bageye. There aren't very many black men in Luton in 1972 and most of them gather at Mrs Knight's - Summer Wear, Pioneer, Anxious, Tidy Boots - each has his nickname.
This is the story of a feckless father seen through the eyes of his ten-year-old son. It’s a wry and gently comedy about unfulfilling day jobs and late night poker games, of illegal mini-cabs and small-scale drug-dealing. And it is also about a family struggling to belong and a vivid tale of growing up in a vanished world of 1970s suburbia.
Over one dramatic decade, a trio of Trench Town R&B crooners, Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer and Bob Marley, swapped their 1960s Brylcreem hairdos and two-tone suits for 1970s battle fatigues and dreadlocks to become the Wailers - one of the most influential groups in popular music. Now one of our best and brightest non-fiction writers examines for the first time the story of the legendary reggae band.
Charting their complex relationship, their fluctuating fortunes, musical peak, and the politics and ideologies that provoked their split, Colin Grant shows us why they were not just extraordinary musicians, but also natural mystics. And, following a trail from Jamaica through Europe, America, Africa and back to the vibrant and volatile world of Trench Town, he travels in search of the last surviving Wailer.
At one time during the first half of the twentieth century, Marcus Garvey was the most famous black man on the planet. Hailed as both the 'black Moses' and merely 'a Negro with a hat', he masterminded the first International Convention of the Negro Peoples of the World, began the Universal Negro Improvement Association and captivated audiences with his powerful speeches and audacious 'Back to Africa' programme. But he was to end his life in penury, ignominy and friendless exile, after serving jail time in both the US and Jamaica.
With masterful skill, wit and compassion, Colin Grant chronicles Garvey's extraordinary life, the failed business ventures, his misguided negotiations with the Ku Klux Klan, the two wives and the premature obituaries that contributed to his lonely, tragic death. This is the dramatic cautionary tale of a man who articulated the submerged thoughts of an awakening people.
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