With this highly praised collection of short fiction, Lorna Goodison demonstrates why she may be one of literature's best-kept secrets. In the Pushcart Prize-winning title story, humble Dottie thinks her luck has turned when she meets Frenchie, the best-looking, if not most reliable, man in the whole of Jamaica. In "The Helpweight," an accomplished woman must bear the burden of an old flame's renewed affections when he returns from a life abroad with his Irish bride in tow. And in "Henry," a young boy turned out of his house to make way for his mother's lover sells roses on the street to survive. On a whim, he bites off a bloom, which he can feel burning inside his mouth like a red pepper light, hoping it will take root and beautify his own life. Poetically rendered, these and over a dozen other evocative stories create a world in which pride can nourish a soul or be its ruin and where people are in turn uplifted and undone by love.
About the Author
Lorna Goodison is an internationally recognized poet who has published eight books of poetry and two collections of short stories. In 1999 she received the Musgrave Gold Medal from Jamaica, and her work has been widely translated and anthologized in major collections of contemporary poetry. Born in Jamaica, Goodison now teaches at the University of Michigan. She divides her time between Ann Arbor and Toronto.
“A matchless mosaic portrait. . . . A perfect complement to her evocative, widely admired memoir. . . . The voices come vividly off the page. . . . [Goodison] taps deeply into universal experience and offers up these lives with brutal honesty and poignant humanism.”
“Every tale . . . introduces characters that will sustain your interest far more than novels with twice the length and none of the panache of Goodison’s sparkling prose.”
“Alternating between flat-out humor, aching pain, and the confusion of bridging cultures, [these] stories weave around one another in a rhythmic, engaging palette of language and characters sure to remain with the reader.”
“[A] captivating and poetic collection.”
“Goodison deals with the physical world and the words flung between her powerful characters—she’s scoring a dance. . . . It’s an addictive game to play, paying attention to the silences in the songs.”
“A beautifully written and evocative book. . . . Goodison finds a glittering and urgent beauty in the everyday, without shying away from a frank confrontation of those moments when the everyday is shattered by trauma.”
-Danielle Evans, author of Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool SelfDanielle Evans, author of Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self
“Few writers are as attuned as Goodison to the heartaches and triumphs of Jamaicans, especially Jamaican women. . . . Fewer writers still tell us so much about what it means to be human.”
-Elizabeth Nunez, author of Prospero's Daughter and Boundaries
“How Lorna Goodison manages to capture so much about human complexities in these stories is baffling. I just love this book.”
-Uwem Akpan, author of Say You're One of Them