Popular author George Graham, whose book, “Hill-an’-Gully Rider,” sparked widespread comment in the Caribbean, explores the life of a Jamaican immigrant in his new novel, “The Color of Ice: A Canadian Serenade.”
Born in Black River, Jamaica, Graham immigrated to Canada during the late 1950s and lived there for about 20 years, with two breaks to return to live and work in Jamaica. During one break he was Public Relations Director for the Jamaica Industrial Development Corporation, and during the other he was one of the founding editors of The Jamaica Daily News.
His Daily News columns created intense controversy, and when he declared he was “voting with his feet” to return to Canada in 1973, he was subjected to a torrent of abuse and even received threats on his life.
The episode that sparked his decision to leave Jamaica had nothing to do with his columns, however. It was sparked by a car-jacking during which an escaped prisoner held a pistol to his head for nearly half an hour before dumping him in the street and taking off.
The gunman was killed a few days later in a shoot-out with police, and the car was found wrecked and abandoned on a country road. The trunk was full of ganja (which, Graham hastened to make clear, was placed in the trunk by the car jacker).
“I didn’t think I was a coward,” Graham recalls. “But when I heard the click of the gun’s safety catch that night, every hair stood up straight on the back of my neck.”
In “Hill-an’-Gully Rider,” Graham attempted to reconstruct a Jamaica that might have been if the policies he deplored had been rejected by the island’s leaders.
In “The Color of Ice: A Canadian Serenade,” Graham sings a gentler tune. He tells the heartwarming and often-amusing story of a Jamaican country boy who immigrates to Toronto in the early 1960s and finds himself in a strange and hostile environment.
Alone and half-frozen, he longs for the sunshine and sensuality of his homeland.
The civil rights movement is at its height and the Vietnam War is raging. Catastrophic events in the United States have a profound effect on his perceptions – and on his life.
Early encounters with bigoted Canadians make him acutely self-conscious of his swarthy skin and Caribbean accent. And when he falls in love with a white Canadian girl, his mind is filled with self-doubt and mistrust.
But his talent for music and help from newfound friends open doors he never knew existed, and shape a destiny beyond his wildest imaginings.
“The Color of Ice: A Canadian Serenade” is available on the web at :http://www.publishamerica.com/shopping/index.htm
“Hill-an’-Gully Rider” is available at http://stores.lulu.com/georgeg