Social worker Keith, separated from his wife and their teenage son, is floundering in a world of fraught sexual politics, parental responsibilities and class expectations. He takes refuge from his domestic problems in a long-cherished writing project and a renewed relationship with his aging father, who came to Britain as part of the windrush generation, but for the first time in his life he begins to feel extremely vulnerable as a black man in English society.
Meanwhile Annabelle watches the man she married against the wishes of her parents struggle with his grip on reality. Despite their three year estrangement, she realises that they have no choice but to close ranks if they are to protect their son from a world of street gangs and violence.
Phillips (Dancing in the Dark) is a master when it comes to issues of race, immigration and identity in modern England. In his latest, protagonist Keith Gordon, the child of West Indian immigrants, is going through a mid-life crisis. Separated from his white wife, whose family cut her off for marrying him, and fielding resentment from his 17-year-old son Laurie (wrestling with the stigma of his mixed background), Keith tries to make sense of his disintegrating life-also including a career on the skids and a troubled relationship with his own father. Phillips's latest is thoughtful, personal and engrossing, detailing the struggles of second-generation immigrants, thoroughly assimilated Britons who don't "look" British. While Keith can be frustratingly passive, his personal saga is challenging and emblematic, chronicling the changing racial makeup of modern England without ever crossing into stereotypical or maudlin territory.