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The Burning Bush Women & Other Stories

Delores is losing parts of herself, her typing speed, her ability to say ‘hi’ to work colleagues, until she is no longer Delores at all, but bare-footed Queen Mapusa, child of Africa, proud mother of modern civilization.


Cherie Jones
Fiction, Short Stories
Date published
20 Sep 2004

Etheline Elvira Ransom is lying in bed, with a pair of scissors under her behind, waiting to teach her bullying, errant man a lesson. Odetta is a 54-year-old wife and mother talking her way through the day of her secret abortion. The Burning Bush women are smoking cigars and weaving each other’s wild blood-red hair into tight plaits, but the plaits won’t hold: somewhere, the hair says, a Bush woman is dying.

In these sometimes strange, funny, tragic and truthful stories, Cherie Jones weaves paths through the joys and suffering of women’s lives. The writing occupies an in-between space between the magical and the realistic, exploring the tensions between the African folk wisdom Nanan passes on from the ancestors to her grand-daughter, and the colonised dictums that the mother in ‘The Bride’ offers her daughter about how a respectable woman lives. (‘Remember how nappy you can look if you let yourself go.’)

In his introduction, Kamau Brathwaite describes these stories as ‘poems’ that ‘sally forth to sack Rome’, each as one more strand, one more curl, one more weave of a whole book ‘recovering back our culture’, the whole as ‘one more bottle of omen on the Peepal Tree of the People’.

The Burning Bush Women tells so many stories, so much life, in a rich variety of voices that stay with you long after closing the book. The talented short story writer can tell a lifetime in a few pages, and in this Cherie Jones ranks with the best.

Cherie Jones lives and works in Barbados. She was the winner of the first prize in the 1999 Commonwealth Short Story Competition and a prize of £2,000.

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Cherie Jones

Cherie S A Jones was born in 1974. She received a LL.B degree from the University of the West Indies, Barbados, in 1995, a Legal Education Certificate from the Hugh Wooding Law School, St Augustine, Trinidad in 1997 and was admitted to the Bar in Barbados in October 1997. She still works as a lawyer, in addition to her writing.

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