Review: Trumpet – Jackie Kay

Joss Moody has died and the jazz world is in mourning. But in death, Joss can no longer guard the secret he kept all his life, and Colman, his son, must confront the truth: the man he believed to be his father was, in fact, a woman.

Jackie Kay artfully considers ties between gender and the identity and impact someone can have on the world through the fictional jazz musician Joss Moody. Joss’s life is explored in alternating narratives of those who knew him – those who knew his secret all along, those who found out after his death, those who knew her as Josephine and not since. There’s anger, upset, love, adoration; there’s the leaching journalist trying to write a book through those closest to him too.

Media portrayals of Joss now his ‘secret’ is out cause their own brands of trouble: Millie is left trying to hold on to her own, real memory of him versus that which the media prints; Colman is angered by finding out about his father’s life. Bit by bit, Joss Moody’s life is built up until you’ve got a portrait of his life. Trumpet puts identity under the spotlight: what really makes a person themselves? What really defines them? It’s wonderfully written, very readable, and I would recommend this over and over.


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