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I’ve Been a Kind of Ventriloquist

For this episode, writers Patricia Cumper and Pauline Walker are joined by memoirist and biographer Colin Grant. He tells us about writing his memoir Bageye at the Wheel and how he was inspired to write about Jamaican greats Marcus Garvey, Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer.

An image of the Black writer Colin Grant taken outside. He is wearing glasses and is sporting a brown hat, blue shirt and yellow jacket.

In a sense I’ve just been writing the one book again and again with slightly different versions because I think that the richest place on the planet is the Caribbean…So although I say I’ve been writing the same book again and again and again, there’s nothing to stop me continuing to do so because it’s such an endless supply of rich stories, a rich tapestry which hasn’t yet fully been told.

I think that the richest place on the planet is the Caribbean.....it’s such an endless supply of rich stories, a rich tapestry which hasn’t yet fully been told

Colin Grant is the author of five books. They include: Negro with a Hat: The Rise and Fall of Marcus Garvey; and a group biography of the Wailers, I&I, The Natural Mystics. His memoir, Bageye at the Wheel, was shortlisted for the Pen/Ackerley Prize, 2013. Grant’s history of epilepsy, A Smell of Burning, was a Sunday Times Book of the Year 2016.

As a producer for the BBC, Grant wrote and directed several radio drama documentaries including A Fountain of Tears: The Murder of Federico Garcia Lorca; and A History of the N Word.

Grant is an Associate Fellow in the Centre for Caribbean Studies and teaches creative writing for Arvon and Spread the Word. He also writes for a number of newspapers and journals including the Guardian, Observer, New Statesman, TLS, London Review of Books, Granta and New York Review of Books.  Grant’s latest book, Homecoming: Voices of the Windrush Generation, was a BBC radio 4 Book of the Week and a Daily Telegraph Book of the year 2019.

Publisher: Bea Hemming at Jonathan Cape

Agent: Sophie Lambert at C & W

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