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Monday, May 22, 2006

Every Little Thing # 7 of 10

Michael Grant's Daylight Come

Portrait of a generation: Michael Grant's novel Daylight Come
Michael A Edwards Entertainment Editor
Sunday, April 02, 2006

For the average Jamaican today, in a population largely under age 40, the thought of Jamaica during the WWII years
is near impossible to conjure up: food and gas rations, young men going off to aid the war effort on behalf of the
Empire, all this as the then colony lurched toward self-determination.
Michael A Grant is an advertising executive and lecturer in Advertising and Visual Communication at UWI.

Add to that the growing contest between American and British interests in the Caribbean, which were intensified during
the war as well as in its immediate aftermath, and one has the ingredients of a compelling and little told story.

It is that story, or his own approximation of it, that marketing executive and designer Michael Grant seeks to tell in
his book, Daylight Come. Grant, a child of the Independence period, presents an engaging portrait of the generation that
predeced his, as symbolised by the protagonist, Peter 'Pico' Campbell.

The reader first sees Campbell in two extremes, as a young promising athlete, and then in a 'flash-forward' as an aging
picaresque, hardened by drink and the ravages of his wartime experiences but still holding on, beneath the cynicism to
some vestigal thoughts of his own prowess (both sporting and sexual).

Part wartime suspense thriller, part social studies treatise, part character sketch Daylight evolved out of the author's
mutlifaceted literary and historical interests "I was always drawn more to cultural history than political history," Grant
says in explaining the novel. "My father was a young boy at the height of WWII and I was fascinated about what Jamaican life
would have been like during that time."

For Grant, there is an extent to which characters like 'Pico' Campbell write themselves. "What I sought to do with this story
is to plug an ordinary Jamaican - but one with a burning desire to get out of Jamaica, as indeed many of us have - and place
him in a fanciful situation and have him work his way through it."

Though the book is published on his own Great House Publishing imprint, Grant rebuffs any thought of it being a mere vanity
exercise; "What self-publishing did was give me a greater measure of control, but also a greater measure of responsibility.
I still had it edited and read professionally, and I had friends who were agents that I showed it to who graciously gave me
their unbiased feedback and recommendations.

As a 'Jamerican' (he was educated at top-tier schools in the US and worked in the media and communications indutries in
New York City), Grant believes that Jamaicans and Black Americans should enjoy closer relationships. "There's kind of a
distance, a kind of stand-off that I've observed and it shouldn't be that way. Some of the circumstances may have been
different, but culturally, we have a lot in common."

Daylight Come, in the mold of the folk song that informs its title, is a reflection on a time when, as Grant explains,
the society was less jaded, indeed more innocent than it is today.

His current project cuts across a number of time periods. It is a book about notable Jamaican men, called Changemakers,
along with well-known photographer Peter Ferguson.

Of his own decision, to leave the world of Madison Avenue and writing assignments with the likes of the Wall Street Journal
and the New York Times, to return home, Grant offers this explanation, "I understand what obtains here and I understood that
there was and is a cost to my decision, but I really believed it was time to come home. There is a point at which you can be
making money, but losing value."

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