Cliff and Ossi have grown up in Plymouth on the island of Tobago, their lives turning on the axis of small-town life. One day they watch the arrival of a couple and their child at a luxurious house overlooking the ocean. The couple invites Cliff into their home and lives, and in that cool’flim-style’ house, the harsh, brittle life of urban Plymouth is kept briefly at bay, desires obscuring differences in class and race. But then things begin to go wrong-money vanishes, the couple’s car disappears-and those differences are brought suddenly to light, raising unsettling questions about relationships, wealth, and responsibility.
Back in print: an extraordinary first novel by’a writer to watch and to enjoy.’*
Told in the voice of a girl as she moves from childhood into adolescence, Buxton Spice is the story the town of Tamarind Grove: its eccentric families, its sweeping joys, and its sudden tragedies. The novel brings to life 1970s Guyana-a world at a cultural and political crossroads-and perfectly captures a child’s keen observations, sense of wonder, and the growing complexity of consciousness that marks the passage from innocence to experience.
Women in the Grove offers nine surprising, impossible-to-put-down stories about lives filled with loneliness, love, humor, grace, and mortality. The women are black, white, immigrants, faculty wives; they are in rehab and in high school, and each is filled with the imperative to go on living. In story after story Peterson presents the humanity of each of her characters even as they are compelled to make impossible choices-sometimes disastrous ones-about how they will spend the rest of their days. Theirs is an entirely fresh and unexpected brand of heroism.
The Signe family is blessed with two daughters. Consuelo, the elder, is thought of as pensive and book-loving, the serious child-la niña seria-while Mili, her younger sister, is seen as vivacious, a ray of tropical sunshine. Two daughters: one dark, one light; one to offer comfort and consolation, the other to charm and delight. But, for all the joy both girls should bring, something is not right in this Puerto Rican family; a tragedia is developing, like a tumor, at its core.
In this fierce, funny, and sometimes startling novel, we follow a young woman’s quest to negotiate her own terms of survival within the confines of her culture and her family.
“Judith Ortiz Cofer has created a character who takes us by the hand on a journey of self-discovery. She reminds readers young and old never to forget our own responsibilities, and to enjoy life with all its joys and sorrows.”–Bessy Reyna, MultiCultural Review
It’s 1978, and Dale Singleton is becoming alarmed as his friend, Ian Kaysen, is afflicted with a mysterious and seemingly untreatable illness characterized by pneumonia, lesions, and dementia. This novel of the first days of AIDS is viscerally affecting, as it conveys the shocked puzzlement of those troubled by Ian’s condition while simultaneously documenting Jamaican society’s struggle to accept the dignity of gay love. Dale’s world collapses, yet his experience of being gay in a middle-class culture circumscribed by church, family, and compulsory heterosexuality is hauntingly memorable-and familiar.
Me Dying Trial, Patricia Powell’s masterful debut novel, establishes her as a major voice in Caribbean literature. Gwennie Augusta Glaspole, a schoolteacher, is trapped in an unhappy marriage and quickly saddled with six children. Gwennie resists Jamaican cultural expectations of playing dutiful wife and mother, struggling in a loveless, often abusive relationship, she eventually relocates to Connecticut. Dealing with issues of religion, sexuality, immigration, domestic violence, and gender inequality, Powell has proven to be “a Generation-X vanguard for the Caribbean literary world” (Boston Magazine), and much more.
This is a brilliant and revelatory first novel by a woman who is both an Arab and an American, who speaks with both voices and understands both worlds. Through the narratives of four cousins at the brink of maturity, Laila Halaby immerses her readers in the lives, friendships, and loves of girls struggling with national, ethnic, and sexual identities. Mawal is the stable one, living steeped in the security of Palestinian traditions in the West Bank. Hala is torn between two worlds-in love in Jordan, drawn back to the world she has come to love in Arizona. Khadija is terrified by the sexual freedom of her American friends, but scarred, both literally and figuratively, by her father’s abusive behavior. Soraya is lost in trying to forge an acceptable life in a foreign yet familiar land, in love with her own uncle, and unable to navigate the fast culture of California youth. Interweaving their stories, allowing us to see each cousin from multiple points of view, Halaby creates a compelling and entirely original story, a window into the rich and complicated Arab world.
With intense emotion and great literary skill, Farnoosh Moshiri has written one of the most moving novels to come out in years. The story begins with the arrest of a seventeen-year-old girl in the early days of the fundamentalist revolution in Iran. Imprisoned because of her brother’s involvement with leftist politics, she is placed in a makeshift jail, a former bathhouse, in which other women are held captive. With a gripping narrative, Moshiri gives voice to these prisoners, exploring their torment and struggle, but also their courage and humanity, in the face of tyrants.
In the tradition of Thousand Pieces of Gold comes The Moon Pearl, the story of Rooster, Shadow, and Mei Ju, who become fast friends while members of a girls’ house, where young daughters are taught to become daughters-in-law. These girls, however, want neither to marry nor become nuns (the only options open to them at this time). They choose instead to support themselves through their skills in embroidery and silk production. Though ostracized by their families, attacked, and barely able to find sustenance and shelter, these sze saw, or self-combers as they will come to be called, manage to create lives that they alone control. An amazing true-life story, The Moon Pearl offers an empowering vision of womanhood in China.
After a decade in a suburban American world of shopping malls and fast-food restaurants, sisters Renu and Manx return to their childhood home, the island of Pi. A bit of India “torn free to float in the Bay of Bengal,” its alien and yet strangely familiar landscape is defined by gardens and hillsides ablaze with surreal foliage, and ceiling fans that circle endlessly in the background. The sisters and their mother have returned because cousin Rajesh, always affectionately known as Renu’s twin, has died. His death and their return mark the beginning of a curious journey, leading by unexpected routes toward revelation.
This exquisite book-length poem is set in colonial Brazil, following the destruction of Palmares, the last of seven fugitive slave enclaves beset by the Portuguese. Amid the flight and reenslavement of its inhabitants emerges the love story of Anninho and Almeyda, former African slaves. Song for Anninho offers readers some of Gayl Jones’s very best verse.
A powerful collection of stories by the acclaimed author of Mother to Mother This collection of Sindiwe Magona’s short fiction, following the publication to wide acclaim of her novel Mother to Mother, ranges in location from rural Transkei, her homeland, and the black township of Guguletu, where she struggled to raise her children, to New York, where she immigrated. With vivid and perceptive prose, Magona creates memorable characters, both hilarious and tragic, who bring to life the rich and varied backgrounds and cultures of South Africa.
Sindiwe Magona’s novel Mother to Mother explores the South African legacy of apartheid through the lens of a woman who remembers a life marked by oppression and injustice. Magona decided to write this novel when she discovered that Fulbright Scholar Amy Biehl, who had been killed while working to organize the nation’s first ever democratic elections in 1993, died just a few yards away from her own permanent residence in Guguletu, Capetown. She then learned that one of the boys held responsible for the killing was in fact her neighbor’s son. Magona began to imagine how easily it might have been her own son caught up in the wave of violence that day. The book is based on this real-life incident, and takes the form of an epistle to Amy Biehl’s mother. The murderer’s mother, Mandisi, writes about her life, the life of her child, and the colonized society that not only allowed, but perpetuated violence against women and impoverished black South Africans under the reign of apartheid. The result is not an apology for the murder, but a beautifully written exploration of the society that bred such violence.