“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 shine.”—Zadie Smith
Tenderness and cruelty, loyalty and betrayal, ambition and regret—Alexia Arthurs navigates these tensions to extraordinary effect in her debut collection 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 couple 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 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.
Alexia Arthurs emerges in this vibrant, lyrical, intimate collection as one of fiction’s most dynamic and essential young authors.
Advance praise for How to Love a Jamaican
“I am utterly taken with these gorgeous, tender, heartbreaking stories. Alexia 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 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’s stunning debut story collection. This fantastic young writer conjures the fierce wit of Jamaica Kincaid and the deft storytelling of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.”—Naomi Jackson, author of The Star Side of Bird Hill
Tell us what do you think about How to Love a Jamaican: Stories.