In this debut story collection from Arthurs, winner of the 2017 Plimpton Award, readers meet Jamaicans in a wide spectrum of life moments ... Jamaican realities contemplated through many engaged and interesting eyes.
Alexia Arthurs’ short story collection How to Love a Jamaican is a timely exploration of multigenerational waves of immigration, the impact separating families has on children and the desire to be included ... The stories hum with tension and nuance, creating characters desperate to be understood but wary of being defined simply by their race or origins.
It is, perhaps, a startlingly simple reminder: Geography may forge a people’s destiny, but it also shapes individual human beings in concert with a whole set of personal characteristics. Arthurs makes the case for her characters’ specificity repeatedly throughout the text. Still, it’s never a blunt, overbearing message. The vignettes ebb and flow at different paces because Arthurs’s characters do. In this way, How to Love a Jamaican enters a larger canon of literature by immigrant or diasporic authors whose stories function both as self-contained literary worlds and as mirrors of human ecosystems that precious few American artistic institutions invest in reflecting ... Arthurs immerses the reader, taking special care to re-create the sights, smells, sounds, tastes, and feelings of the island she calls home ... How to Love a Jamaican is a joy to read not just because it reminds the reader of lives that deserve close attention, but also because it magnifies, with tenderness, the multitudes within an identity too often dismissed as singular.