Strike the Father Dead is John Wain's fifth and best novel to date. The story is narrated by three people: Jeremy, son and jazz pianist, Alfred, father and Professor of Classics, and Eleanor, aunt and sister. From these different standpoints Jeremy's progress is viewed, at the start "objectively" and later with the first light of understanding that all three (passionately, reluctantly and instinctively according to their temperaments) are groping towards the ultimate safety of truth. Jeremy runs away from home in 1942 when he is just seventeen. For three uneasy years he lives in the half-world of wartime London, evading call-up, living close to the criminal fringe on forged papers and blackmarket food. Scandal and misery at home: instability and guilt in London. But he learns to play jazz; and he meets Percy, a vast, gentle American negro horn-player who, by example, teaches him much more than jazz. Success comes for Jeremy and Percy in Paris after the war. It lasts long enough for Jeremy to learn something of the bitterness of compromise and the sharp edge of integrity abandoned. Their band disperses: Percy vanishes; and Jeremy involves himself in a futile search for love and reverts to hack work at the piano. Later, from different ends of the same wilderness, they meet again to find the old enchantment of their music unimpaired. Percy is a wonderfully realized character and his ability to cope with the problems raised by his colour and his uncompromising genius give added point to the rebellions and struggles of the three narrators. Strike the Father Dead is a major novel: moving, honest, and powerful.
December 1962 : UK Hardback
February 2015 : UK Paperback
June 2014 : USA Paperback
July 1978 : UK Paperback
June 2014 : USA, Canada Kindle edition