Fear and bitterness pollute the ground from which the characters of these stories, mostly young and female, struggle to grow. With so many ‘bad seeds’, mostly male, taking root around them, with sexual violence, neglectful and brutal fathers, jealousy, lies and prejudice obscuring their light, their blossoming is always under threat. But in these diverse, subtly constructed stories, there is often a glimmer of hope: in a girl’s tentative resistance to general prejudice about ‘madmen’; or in the silence on a phone line between estranged friends, where forgiveness may or may not come.
In the stories set in Jamaica life is hard, and the comforts of ‘away’ are idealized. But in the cold of the streets of the North, there is no passport to success for the people of yard. Only their resilience, optimism, humour and friendship (and the comforts of beer and ganja) help them make their way. And in the ‘diaspora dance’ of the different immigrant nations struggling to find their place in Europe or North America, new connections and new possibilities are being created.
But if these stories are coolly unsentimental, there is also room for humour and moments of joy, as when Marie, a middle-aged Jamaican reggae singer, finds the sweet flavour of cane juice lingering on her young Brazilian lover’s tongue.
This book is part of the Jamaica book bundle – five outstanding Jamaican works of fiction for only £40, and postage is free to anywhere in the world.
The River’s Song,
Stories From Yard,
A Permanent Freedom
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Alecia McKenzie was born and grew up in Kingston, Jamaica. Her short stories, Satellite City, won the Commonwealth Writers regional prize for the best first work in 1993.