How to Love a Jamaican: Stories (Paperback)

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Description


“In these kaleidoscopic stories of Jamaica and its diaspora we hear many voices at once. All of them convince and sing. All of them shine.”—Zadie Smith

An O: The Oprah Magazine “Top 15 Best of the Year” • A Well-Read Black Girl Pick

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 authors.

Praise for How to Love a Jamaican

“A sublime short-story collection from newcomer Alexia Arthurs that explores, through various characters, a specific strand of the immigrant experience.”Entertainment Weekly

“With its singular mix of psychological precision and sun-kissed lyricism, this dazzling debut marks the emergence of a knockout new voice.”—O: The Oprah Magazine

“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

“Vivid and exciting . . . every story rings beautifully true.”Marie Claire

About the Author


Alexia Arthurs was born and raised in Jamaica and moved with her family to Brooklyn when she was twelve. A graduate of Hunter College and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, she has been published in Granta, The Sewanee Review, Small Axe, Virginia Quarterly Review, Vice, and The Paris Review, which awarded her the Plimpton Prize in 2017.

Praise For…


“[Alexia] Arthurs’s collection of short stories tackles the immigrant experience, exploring it through the prism of family. One particular story that’s sure to attract buzz: ‘Shirley from a Small Place,’ in which a world-famous pop star—based on Rihanna—retreats to her mother’s new house in her birthplace of Jamaica.”Entertainment Weekly

“With its singular mix of psychological precision and sun-kissed lyricism, this dazzling debut marks the emergence of a knockout new voice.”O: The Oprah Magazine

“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

“Arthurs’s debut is vivid and exciting, and every story rings beautifully true.”Marie Claire

“Arthurs complicates the very idea of a unifying national identity. She paints a disparate but not disjointed portrait of a complex national and diasporic landscape. To love any one Jamaican, Arthurs implies, you must first learn them.”The Atlantic

How to Love a Jamaican explores subjects ranging from identity and what it means to be a woman, to heritage and what it means to be Jamaican.”Vanity Fair (“Carry These New Books with You Wherever You Go”)

“The stories hum with tension and nuance, creating characters desperate to be understood but wary of being defined simply by their race or origins.”—Associated Press

“In this book, there’s no single way to be Jamaican—the definition of the word itself expands to encompass each person who claims it.”The Paris Review

“Equal parts relatable and thought-provoking, providing an in-depth look at how much living within and outside of borders dictates who we are.”Shondaland

“Arthurs’s debut collection of short stories is an impressive, fully realized work that grapples with Jamaican womanhood. . . . Arthurs offers a compassionate response with these tender portraits of hard women, lost girls, and the people who love them.”—The Village Voice

“In vibrant, evocative prose, Arthurs brings these characters, and their varied experiences of a shared home, to life.”—BuzzFeed

“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

“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 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

“Many of the stories in this accomplished debut collection about Jamaican immigrants take place in New York City and Midwest university towns, but Arthurs’s characters are haunted by memories of Jamaica and unfinished family business there. The thoughtful, yearning voices—women and men, younger and older—add up to a complex cultural portrait.”
The New York Times Book Review, Paperback Row



Product Details
ISBN: 9781524799229
ISBN-10: 152479922X
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: June 18th, 2019
Pages: 256

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