A pleasant realisation comes while trying to second-guess what the ‘hook’ for marketing this memoir might be: My Life In The Sunshine largely sells itself on its own merits, rather than what or who it’s about. Nabil Ayers is a music biz type who managed the US arm of 4AD Records from 2009 until this year; he’s also the son of jazz-funk supremo Roy Ayers. You might imagine that someone who found one of those details interesting would consider the other less so, but interest in either isn’t essential for enjoyment.
Nabil and Roy’s relationship is unorthodox, the history of it at least. The author’s mother became pregnant in the early 70s after a brief fling with Roy; that Nabil would be raised without the father’s input was a mutual decision beforehand. The desire to connect with an estranged parent is a pretty common instinct, though, especially when their name and work repeatedly crosses your eyeline, and as Nabil enjoys his own, smaller-scale successes in the music world, his wish for a more tangible dad-son relationship only grows.
My Life In The Sunshine is evocative when describing connective-tissue life events like preteen Nabil’s Kiss fandom and his high school punk covers band, but strongest when sifting through his experience as a mixed-race person in America. Long before he takes a DNA test and finds his heritage is decidedly more complicated than he thought, his appearance makes him many different things to different people, acutely felt while existing in a succession of predominantly white cultural spaces.
My Life In The Sunshine, Nabil Ayers (Viking)
Price: £19.99. Info: here
words NOEL GARDNER
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