Jamal Mahjoub, who was widely acclaimed for Travelling with Djinns, is described by his London publisher as a ‘British writer’ while celebrated elsewhere as an African one. Write novels about not having a label and it seems the world of publicity will helpfully oblige.
The starting point in The Drift Latitudes is Ernst Frager, the ultimate white European male in that he is a German machinist-inventor (not a ‘refugee’, as the cover asserts, but an immigrant interned here during the War). Ernst has a daughter, Rachel, by an English wife, then another, Jade, by a West Indian woman in Liverpool. Rachel inherits her father’s wanderlust and ends up in Sudan, where she marries and raises her own mixed-race son. Jade inherits the legacy in other forms, such as her fond memories of jazz, the music born of displacement and loss that drew her parents together.