Red Jacket


Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize 2015 - Short-listed

Growing up on the Caribbean island of St. Chris, Grace Carpenter never feels like she really belongs. Although her large, extended family is black, she is a redibo. Her skin is copper-coloured, her hair is red, and her eyes are grey. A neighbour taunts her, calling her “a little red jacket,” but the reason for the insult is never explained. Only much later does Grace learn the story of her birth mother and decipher the mystery surrounding her true identity.


Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize


A compelling tale of faith and family, ranging from the dusty landscapes of West Africa to the rich flavours of the Caribbean. Pamela Mordecai has made the transition from poetry to prose with an enviable ease.

Will Ferguson, Giller Prize–winning author of 419

A rich and compelling tale about the agony of being made to feel different and the elusiveness of belonging.

Rachel Manley, Governor General’s Award–winning author of the Drumblair trilogy

If there is a smelting room of the English language, if there is an iron table where syntax and breath are shone, here is where Pam Mordecai works her glittering materials.

Dionne Brand, Griffin Poetry Award–winning author of Ossuaries

Pamela Mordecai is a fearsomely ingenious writer, whose ear for language is equalled by her huge heart’s humanity.

George Elliott Clarke, Governor General’s Award–winning author of Execution Poems

Canadian poet Pamela Mordecai’s first novel moves from the warmth of the Caribbean to the chill of Canada and then to the deserts of West Africa. Fans of Caribbean literature and readers who enjoy sagas of misfortune may find this book captivating.

Library Journal

This exceptional story of one woman's education, career, and motherhood ... Grace's story of a rise from humble beginnings may feel familiar, but Mordecai never allows it to become cliched.

Publishers Weekly

…Red Jacket is an accomplished, intelligent novel…to be savoured for its multiple layers of meaning and—especially—its richness of language.

Quill & Quire

Alternately heart-wrenching, clever and very real, this novel tackles issues that are relevant on both a personal and global level. 

The Guelph Mercury

Red Jacket is successful in that it holds the reader's attention from start to finish and invites us to reflect on many issues that assail us. It is a significant fictional accomplishment.

Maple Tree Literary Supplement

For those attuned to a Caribbean literary tradition and women’s writing in particular, the echoes of Paule Marshall’s Daughters, Merle Hodge’s Crick Crack, Monkey, and even Jean Rhys’s Wild Sargasso Sea will most certainly be heard in Mordecai’s latest work.

About the Author

Pamela Mordecai

Posted by Dundurn Guest on October 30, 2014
Pamela Mordecai photo

Pamela Mordecai

Pamela Mordecai was born in Jamaica. She has published five collections of poetry and an anthology of short fiction. She has also written many textbooks and edited or co-edited groundbreaking anthologies of Caribbean writing. Her poetry for children is widely anthologized. Her poems have been shortlisted for the Canada Writes CBC Poetry Prize and the Bridport Prize (U.K.).