The Pain Tree
Winner of the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature, The Pain Tree is Olive Senior at her very best, unforgettable short stories set in Jamaica and Canada, now available in this beautiful UK and Caribbean edition from Peepal Tree Press.
Olive Senior
ISBN number
Fiction, Short Stories
Country setting
Publication date
06 Feb 2017

Winner of the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature 

Olive Senior’s new collection of stories, The Pain Tree, is wide-ranging in scope, time period, theme, locale, and voice. There is — along with her characteristic “gossipy voice” — reverence, wit and wisdom, satire, humour, and even farce. The stories range over at most a hundred years, from around the time of the second world war to the present. Like her earlier stories, Jamaica is the setting but the range of characters presented are universally recognisable as people in crisis or on the cusp of transformation.

While most of the stories operate within a realist mode, Senior also exploits traditional motifs. Collected here are revenge stories (“The Goodness of my Heart”), a bargain with the Devil (“Boxed-in”), a Cinderella story (“The Country Cousin”), a magical realist interpretation of African spiritual beliefs (“Flying”) and a narrator’s belated acceptance of the healing power of traditional beliefs (“The Pain Tree”). “Coal” is a realist story set in the war years and depression that followed as folks try to find a new place in the world. Senior’s trademark children awakening to self-awareness and to the hypocrisy of adults are here too, from the heartbreaking “Moonlight” and “Silent” to the girls in “Lollipop” and “A Father Like That” who learn to confront loneliness and vulnerability with attitude.


Olive Senior

Olive Senior is the prize-winning author of a seventeen books of fiction, poetry and non-fiction. Born in Jamaica, she has travelled extensively and has now settled in Toronto. She visits Jamaica frequently and the island and the wider Caribbean remain central to her work. She teaches writing internationally and has read her work and lectured at many international venues over the years.
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