Strike the Father Dead (1962) – John Wain


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‘The endless round of duties and responsibilities that had been palmed off on me as a life – it wasn’t a life, it was a fraud, and I knew it.’ So says teenager Jeremy Coleman, whose father, an austere classics professor, disapproves of the boy’s preference for jazz music over Greek grammar. After a final falling-out with his father, Jeremy runs away from home, disappearing into the dives of wartime London, where he plays jazz for a living in seedy nightclubs while evading conscription. He soon encounters the other denizens of this strange twilight world of draft-dodgers and itinerant musicians, and his life changes forever when he meets a black jazzman from Baltimore, Percy Brett. They form a band, and their success in London and Paris leads to a big offer from an American recording executive. But on the eve of their greatest triumph, Jeremy and Percy become the targets of a vicious racial attack, a brutal assault that may have unexpected consequences for their musical future, and for Jeremy’s relationship with his estranged father. . . .

John Wain’s lifelong love of jazz music permeates his classic fifth novel, Strike the Father Dead (1962), which won critical acclaim and showed a very different side to the author, whose Hurry on Down (1953) had been a smash success. This edition features a new introduction by Alice Ferrebe and the original jacket art by Victor Reinganum.