Category Archives: Ballantine Books

How to Love a Jamaican : Stories by Alexia Arthurs

How to Love a Jamaican Title: How to Love a Jamaican: Stories
Author: Alexia Arthurs
Publisher: Ballantine Books
ISBN: 978-1524799205
Genre: Short Stories
Pages: 256
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4 stars

Some books feel closer. They almost feel like a hug. “How to Love a Jamaican” is one of those books. Every story to me seemed wondrous and not a single plot or theme was out of place. And but of course, the stories are diverse, intricate, and provide a lot of authentic insight into the lives of Jamaicans living at home and out of it. The stories blend into each other – exploring themes of loss, love, personal growth, the immigrant experience and mainly what can be called home.

I was also aware of the number of books written exploring this theme and tactic and yet How to Love a Jamaican seems new and fresh. I think it has to do primarily with the writing. Some stories will obviously strike a chord more than the others, but each one will find a special place in your heart. I am a big one for short stories, so this collection did not disappoint me at all.

What is most interesting that Arthurs doesn’t try and explain the idiosyncrasies used or the words, or the phrases. They naturally flow with the stories and that’s that. It is up to the reader to want to know more, which works for a reader like me. My favourite story is “Slack” which opens with a scene of a tragedy and moves to become something larger, which left me bereft and smiling at the same time. “Shirley from a Small Place” is all about the rootedness to home, not forgetting where you came from, a dominating mother, and of course all the culture, pride and food. It seems as though it has all the tropes, but having said that, they work brilliantly. Like I said earlier, it is all about the writing.

The book reads very fast and yet there are moments that will make you stop in-between the read. Arthurs is also most times funny and extremely empathetic toward her characters. And I am sure most of them are known personally to her, for the book to be so involving and engaging to the reader.

“How to Love a Jamaican” is an unusual collection of short stories. It may seem run-off-the-mill at first place, but do not be fooled by its simplicity. There is so much simmering underneath that facade. Read it to understand the Jamaican experience and a different point of view which is redeeming, emotional and liberating, all at the same time.

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The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler

The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler Title: The Accidental Tourist
Author: Anne Tyler
Publisher: Ballantine Books, Random House
ISBN: 9780345452009
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages: 352
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

This book has wanted my attention for the longest time and I have ignored it for the longest time, till February 2015 set in and somehow this book came back to me and I knew I had to read it. “The Accidental Tourist” by Anne Tyler is a book that is not a fast read. It will not have you turn the pages at a neck-breaking speed. It will not do that and if you expect that from a book, then you should not read it. “The Accidental Tourist” is a book that should be read slowly, daily even, and in right doses. To me, that was the only way to read this book.

A couple’s marriage is lost in the wake of their 12-year-old’s senseless murder. Macon Leary is now lonely. He is a man who believes in the ordinary and the structure that he has built around his life. He is a writer of travel guides and does not do well with changes. Sarah Leary cannot cope with the loss of their son. She walks out on Macon. Macon is left to pick up the pieces and then he meets Muriel, who sets his orderly life spinning.

“The Accidental Tourist” is a book that will make you go out and hug people. It is the kind of book of new beginnings, lost and forgotten relationships and what it does to human beings. Anne Tyler is a master of writing about relationships and the modern frameworks they are bound by. She avoids the melodrama and eases the reader into the story. “The Accidental Tourist” is a book which you must savour and read and think about after.

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