How to Love a Jamaican (Hardback)
  • How to Love a Jamaican (Hardback)
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How to Love a Jamaican (Hardback)

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Hardback 256 Pages / Published: 09/08/2018
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'In this thrilling debut collection Alexia Arthurs is all too easy to love.' Zadie Smith
'Impressive' Observer
'A summer must-read' Stylist

One of Oprah Magazine's 15 Favourite Books of 2018.

`There is a way to be cruel that seems Jamaican to me.'

Tenderness and cruelty, loyalty and betrayal, ambition and regret - Alexia Arthurs navigates these tensions to extraordinary effect in her debut collection of short stories, How to Love a Jamaican, about Jamaican immigrants and their families back home. Sweeping from close-knit island communities to the streets of New York City and Midwestern university towns, these eleven stories form a portrait of a nation, a people, and a way of life.

In `Light Skinned Girls and Kelly Rowlands', an NYU student befriends a fellow Jamaican whose privileged West Coast upbringing has blinded her to the hard realities of race. In `Mash Up Love', a twin's chance sighting of his estranged brother - the prodigal son of the family - stirs up unresolved feelings of resentment. In `Bad Behavior', a mother and father leave their wild teenage daughter with her grandmother in Jamaica, hoping the old ways will straighten her out. In `Mermaid River', a Jamaican teenage boy is reunited with his mother in New York after eight years apart. In `The Ghost of Jia Yi', a recently murdered international student haunts a despairing Jamaican athlete recruited to an Iowa college. And in `Shirley from a Small Place', a world-famous pop star retreats to her mother's big new house in Jamaica, which still holds the power to restore something vital.

The winner of the Paris Review's Plimpton Prize for `Bad Behavior', Alexia Arthurs emerges in this vibrant, lyrical, intimate collection as one of fiction's most dynamic and essential young authors.

Publisher: Pan Macmillan
ISBN: 9781509883592
Number of pages: 256
Weight: 384 g
Dimensions: 225 x 143 x 29 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
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
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
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
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
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

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
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 *
This absorbing, engaging collection is the kind of book you rave about to your friends because you see so much of yourself, and them, in its characters . . . Arthurs's debut is vivid and exciting, and every story rings beautifully true. * Marie Claire *
A must-read this summer * Elle.com *
In this exploration of Jamaica and its diaspora, Arthurs masterfully teases out the joys and sorrows of cultural bifurication. The result is a symphony of voices for a generation * Financial Times *
In her riveting debut collection of short stories, Arthurs explores a vast range of issues, from race and class to gender and family. A Jamaican immigrant who moved to Brooklyn at the impressionable age of 12, she tells vivid stories that keep readers on their toes. * Essence *
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 *
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 *
Sometimes the best kind of summer reads are those you can dip in and out of in-between dips in the pool. Alexia Arthurs' debut collection of eleven short stories is a patchwork blanket of tales, voices, emotions and experiences. Dancing between sadness, humour, heartbreak, longing and belonging, Arthurs' offers up an observant, poignant and lyrical portrait of the lives of Jamaican immigrants and the families they've left behind, as well as the nation as a whole. * Culturefly *
A timely exploration of multigenerational waves of immigration, the impact separating families has on children and the desire to be included . . . The stories hum with tension and nuance, creating characters desperate to be understood but wary of being defined simply by their race or origins * AP News *
As vibrant and full of life on the inside as it is on the outside. You won't believe that it's Arthurs' debut * Hello Giggles *
A vibrant, wrenching, and expansive short story collection that illuminates the nuances of the immigrant experience * Bustle *
This distinctive debut story collection features protagonists of Jamaican descent, on the island and in the U.S, mostly as young people struggling to find themselves in the tangle of their roots. Arthurs infuses these excellent stories with melodic patois, and characters from pop stars and athletes to students segue between immigration and return-migration . . . wonderful * National Book Review *
How to Love a Jamaican amplifies a perpetual wrestling between the old world we knew and the new world we know, and how one navigates life's obstacles with, without or in spite of love * Hazlitt *
Vivid, atmospheric and also recommended by Zadie Smith, How To Love A Jamaican has left me hungry for a full-length novel from this debut author. -- Sarra Manning * Red *
A cool, savvy, rich and colourful pleasure, delivered by an `immigrant' writer as tuned into Lena Dunham as she is to old-wives' tales in rural Jamaica. * Big Issue *
Beautifully written and absorbing . . . a complex and rich collection of stories that is quite simply unmissable. * Emerald Street *
The stories in the collection are searing and deeply moving; Arthurs does not shield the reader from the pain and generational trauma of her characters . . . Arthurs' stories are tender but unapologetically raw. How To Love A Jamaican is delicate in its storytelling, and powerful in its centring of the voices and narratives of women and girls in an urgent and sensitive critique of inequality. -- Leah Cowan * Wasafiri *
Devastating * Oprah Magazine *
Zadie Smith has lavished praise on this collection and it's no wonder - Arthurs's stories share Smith's tender and melancholic nostalgia. * Prospect *

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“5/5”

Great read to witness the varying portrayals of black culture with each story taking a different tone and topic around black culture.

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