The Red Jag


I lived in Cardiff for many years before I even realised I was an Indian, the white man's bad medicine had affected me so much.

In a dead end Welsh town, a lonely boy falls under the spell of a newcomer, who claims he is a Native American. A soldier on leave from Northern Ireland discovers that life back in the Valleys is more dangerous than patrolling Belfast. A second-rate cabaret singer is haunted by the thirty-year-old memory of a meeting with Paul Robeson which, instead of inspiring him, destroyed his idealism.

There was a man ahead washing his car, a red jag. It was the kind of car Steve McQueen would drive. As we drew closer I slowed down to get a better look. It was the most beautiful car I'd ever seen.

In the title story, the red jag is a symbol of glamour to the boy, but when his father clashes with the owner he initiates a chain of events that will shatter his relationship with his son.

The main themes of this collction are longing and exile, the search for identity, and father/son relationships. Thirteen stories characterised by strong narratives full of twists and turns, memorable characters, surreal humour and dark, unsettling undercurrents.

Ray French was born in Newport, south Wales, of Irish parents. After studying al Leicester and Lancaster Universities he worked in the book trade, the theatre, with people with disabilities, as a cartoonist and in a library. He now lives in Leeds.