How to Love a Jamaican
‘In this thrilling debut collection Alexia Arthurs is all too easy to love.’ – Zadie Smith
Tenderness and cruelty, loyalty and betrayal, ambition and regret – these are the tensions at the heart of Alexia Arthurs’ debut book about Jamaican immigrants and their families back home. Some stories ask big questions about the things that define a person, others explode small moments of deep significance and lasting effect. Sweeping from close-knit island communities to the streets of New York City, How to Love a Jamaican offers a portrait of a nation, a people, and a way of life.
Vibrant, lyrical and intimate, this collection of eleven short stories shows Alexia Arthurs to be one of the most dynamic and exciting young authors writing today. It includes the story ‘Bad Behavior’, for which she won the Paris Review’s Plimpton Prize.
A must-read this summer * Elle.com * Jamaican immigrant and return-migration stories told with unsentimental honesty. Eleven short stories examine the immigrant experience through the prism of place, food, gender, and generations . . . thankfully devoid of violin-swelling nostalgia, these stories unravel the knot of being in a place but not quite belonging and the sense of missing but not quite understanding what was lost . . . [a] strong debut collection, which beckons the reader back, again and again. A lovely collection of stories that rewards subsequent readings. * Kirkus Review * While the stories have a rawness to them, exploring topics such as sexual orientation, parental relationships, self-discovery, and drug use, Arthurs also offers a sure feel of the mysticism of the Caribbean . . . Stylistically reminiscent of Toni Morrison's Paradise, this successful literary debut will appeal to readers of literary and Caribbean fiction. * Library Journal * I really enjoyed this gorgeous collection of short stories from Jamaican-American author Arthurs, which move between Jamaica and the US. Particularly affecting is "Mash Up Love", where a successful elder son still strives to impress his mother although his deadbeat brother is seen as the prodigal son, and "Bad Behaviour", where a wild Brooklyn teenager is sent back to Jamaica to live with her grandmother. Zadie Smith is also a fan. -- Alice O'Keeffe * Bookseller * From a world weary Jamaican pop star in desperate need of the restorative powers of home to a queer woman returned to the Island after decades in the US, a host of seekers and sojourners fill the pages of Alexia Arthurs' sweeping debut. This collection is brimming with tenderness, hard realities and an intimacy that will stay with you long after you've turned the last page. -- Ayana Mathis, author of the The Twelve Tribes of Hattie Alexia Arthurs is a voice so many of us have been waiting for - funny, achingly specific and wonderfully universal. She explores what it means to belong, what it means to recognize yourself in the most unexpected places, and what humans do with the pain of longing. -- Kaitlyn Greenidge, author of We Love You, Charlie Freeman What a thrill to recognize myself and the women I love in Alexia Arthurs' stunning debut story collection, How to Love a Jamaican. This fantastic young writer conjures the fierce wit of Jamaica Kincaid and the deft storytelling of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Entrancing and unforgettable. -- Naomi Jackson, author of The Star Side of Bird Hill I am utterly taken with these gorgeous, tender, heartbreaking stories. Arthurs is a witty, perceptive, and generous writer, and this is a book that will last -- Carmen Maria Machado, author of Her Body and Other Parties Alexia Arthurs is a writer of beauty, wit, and precision; these stories will grab you by the heart. This is a boss collection. -- NoViolet Bulawayo, author of We Need New Names Alexia Arthurs' How to love a Jamaican is sharp and kind, bitter and sweet. It stays in the yard, delicately attentive to the ways of country folks, and it leaves home with them, too, as they head to 'foreign' - that place across the water where barrels get filled to be sent back home and people are never quite as happy as they expected to be. In these kaleidoscopic stories of Jamaica and its diaspora we hear many voices at once: some cultivated, some simple, some wickedly funny, some deeply melancholic. All of them convince and sing. All of them shine. In this thrilling debut collection Alexia Arthurs is all too easy to love. -- Zadie Smith
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