Saga Boy: My Life of Blackness and Becoming

Milkweed. Sept. 2021. 344p. ISBN 9781571311917. $25. MEMOIR
In this memoir, novelist Downing (Molasses) attempts to process his upbringing as a child in rural Trinidad and his adulthood in Canada. Abandoned by his birth parents, he was raised by his loving grandmother until she passes away. After being torn away from Trinidad, the only home he’d ever known, he was suddenly tossed between Canada and New York just as he came of age. He became a lost soul struggling to come to terms with his identity. Does a place define him? The color of his skin? The generational trauma that has been passed down? Through many highs and lows, Downing takes on various personae to eventually find himself, comes to terms with his blood relatives, and embraces a loose-knit found family. Passages set in Trinidad are particularly lush and rich in detail.
VERDICT Downing’s elegant, engaging memoir will have particular significance to readers from the Caribbean diaspora, but it will be understood by any reader who has ever had their world suddenly upended and needed to make it whole again.
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