June is Caribbean Heritage Month and as a Jamaican born in the UK, I was so happy to see a #ReadCaribbean challenge going around on bookstagram started by @bookofcinz!
This challenge is all about celebrating books set in the Caribbean and shining a light on Caribbean authors in the month of June (and beyond)! I’m so happy to be already discovering books from Caribbean authors I’d never either heard of through this challenge. Are you in? The challenge runs throughout May and you can participate any way that suits you – check @bonkofcinz’s page on instagram and follow the hashtags to discover new Caribbean voices in literature. Gogogo!
How to Love a Jamaican
Synopsis (via publisher)
‘There is a way to be cruel that seems Jamaican to me.’
Tenderness and cruelty, loyalty and betrayal, ambition and regret – Alexia Arthurs navigates these tensions to extraordinary effect in her debut collection of short stories, How to Love a Jamaican, 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 mother and father 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 international 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.
The winner of the Paris Review’s Plimpton Prize for ‘Bad Behavior’, Alexia Arthurs emerges in this vibrant, lyrical, intimate collection as one of fiction’s most dynamic and essential young authors.
Synopsis (via publisher)
The existential magnitude, deep intellect, and playful subversion of St. Thomas-born, Florida-raised poet Nicole Sealey’s work is restless in its empathic, succinct examination and lucid awareness of what it means to be human.
The ranging scope of inquiry undertaken in Ordinary Beast—at times philosophical, emotional, and experiential—is evident in each thrilling twist of image by the poet. In brilliant, often ironic lines that move from meditation to matter of fact in a single beat, Sealey’s voice is always awake to the natural world, to the pain and punishment of existence, to the origins and demises of humanity. Exploring notions of race, sexuality, gender, myth, history, and embodiment with profound understanding, Sealey’s is a poetry that refuses to turn a blind eye or deny. It is a poetry of daunting knowledge.
Here Comes the Sun by Nicole Dennis-Benn
Synopsis (via publisher):
Capturing the distinct rhythms of Jamaican life and dialect, Nicole Dennis- Benn pens a tender hymn to a world hidden among pristine beaches and the wide expanse of turquoise seas. At an opulent resort in Montego Bay, Margot hustles to send her younger sister, Thandi, to school. Taught as a girl to trade her sexuality for survival, Margot is ruthlessly determined to shield Thandi from the same fate.
When plans for a new hotel threaten their village, Margot sees not only an opportunity for her own financial independence but also perhaps a chance to admit a shocking secret: her forbidden love for another woman. As they face the impending destruction of their community, each woman-fighting to balance the burdens she shoulders with the freedom she craves-must confront long-hidden scars. From a much-heralded new writer, Here Comes the Sun offers a dramatic glimpse into a vibrant, passionate world most outsiders see simply as paradise.
Other recommendations I spotted on book tube/ bookstagram you could check out (I want all of these but alas I will bankrupt myself with book buying if I do):
1. Dew Angels
What are you reading in June, have you read any of these books? Do you have another reccomendations?