How to Love a Jamaican by Alexia Arthurs

How to Love a Jamaican

From a magnetic new voice, a debut story collection set in Jamaica and America for readers of Zadie Smith, Helen Oyeyemi, and Imbolo Mbue. "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 about Jamaican immigrants and their families back home. Sweeping from close-knit island communiti...

Details How to Love a Jamaican

TitleHow to Love a Jamaican
Release DateJul 24th, 2018
PublisherBallantine Books
GenreShort Stories, Fiction, Contemporary

Reviews How to Love a Jamaican

  • Debra
    How to love a Jamaican is a collection of short stories which are as vibrant as the cover of the book itself! I won’t give a synopsis of the book, but I will tell you that this book is wonderfully written and engaging. The book focuses on Jamaicans living in both Jamaica and America. The book has themes such as family, culture, the harshness of life, Motherhood (and controlling mothers), self-discovery, sexuality, love, personal growth, insight...
  • karen
    going on vacation = getting ahead in my reading but behind in my reviewing, so i’m going to review this as a whole instead of writing a mini-review for each story. please do not riot in the streets over my decision. this is an impressive first showing. many young authors debuting with short story collections try to do too much, throwing every writer’s workshoppy trick of voice, genre, etc. they have into the pot to see what works, and it usu...
  • Carol
    How to Love a Jamaican is Alexia Arthurs’ confidently-written debut collection, featuring eleven immigrant and return-migration vignettes. I refer to them as vignettes because they are more “slice of life” or reflection essays than they are short stories. The first couple of entries have a Young Adult flavor in terms of both the topics addressed and the writing style, but, taken as a whole, the multiple characters of Jamaican descent vary i...
  • Rod-Kelly Hines
    I’m so happy to have received an ARC from NetGalley because this was such a phenomenal collection of stories. I love when a debut author has a fully-realized voice: there is an immediacy to Alexia Arthurs’s writing which allows all of the complex emotions her characters experience to be incredibly touching and relatable. Every story has a person of Jamaican descent as a main character, with most of the stories focused on self-discovery, remem...
  • Melki
    Every time I picked up this book, the jingle from that old eighties ad campaign started flitting through my brain . . . Come back to Jamaica. What's old is what's new. remember all those happy smiling faces urging me to make Jamaica my new island home, and at first they seemed so at odds with the modern day characters in this book. Like many of us, Arthurs' people suffer from first world problems - getti...
  • BookOfCinz
    I finally finished How To Love A Jamaican and I am thoroughly pleased with this debut novel. I have to admit I can be a bit biased when I read books written by Jamaicans about Jamaicans, but even with my Jamaican googles off this book is absolutely a must-read. I am so impressed with Alexia Arthur’s writing, she perfectly captures the various nuances of the Jamaican culture and its people. If you are looking for a solid collection of short stor...
  • Kay
    I love this as much as I love A Brief History of Seven Killings. Which is to say, a whole heap. This book authentic and unexpected. Treat yourself and your shelves!
  • Ifeyinwa
    Mulling over my thoughts on this collection of short stories that centers Jamaicans. There are some fantastic stories in this book, and others, that though they didn't impress me much, they have a certain vitality to them. This is where a half-star system would be helpful, because I don't love this enough to give it a 4 stars, but a 3-star rating feels weak. 3.5 stars------------------------------------------------If you are active in the booksta...
  • Monica **can't read fast enough**
    How To Love A Jamaican is an excellent debut that I recommend to anyone looking for a collection of stories focusing on how people relate, love, and simply navigate each other. Arthurs has the ability to set an environment and open a connection to her characters quickly. The connecting theme of how to be and embrace who you are in a world that tries to make you conform to standards and expectations that aren't what you want or who you are meant t...
  • Makeda / ColourLit
    I heard about this collection of stories at the end of last year and knew it was going to be something special. If you are of Jamaican (or even Caribbean) heritage you will feel a sense of familiarity with the stories being told. Even though the stories aren’t linked (or meant to be?) reoccurring themes popped up - (1) relationships between mothers and daughters - obedience and rebellion, (2) migration and the (incorrect?) perception that leavi...
  • Michelle
    I was excited to see that this was written in part in vernacular. J. California Cooper is one of my favorite authors and I also enjoyed Marlon James' work. How to Love a Jamaican begins with an exchange between two college women, Kimberly and Cecilia. Both are of Jamaican descent but one is American raised. Their different views about race particularly those on interracial relationships and colorism within the black community are the focus in the...
  • Latanya (CraftyScribbles)
    "How to Love A Jamaican" is not difficult at all, if you just listen 4 stars for various perspectives of life, love, and family set on an island only seen for its shallow vacation fare and ganga, when complex nuances coat the green isle.Favorite Story: We Eat Our Daughters*I received this tale from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review*
  • Eric Anderson
    It’s fitting that Alexia Arthurs’ debut collection of stories has an epigraph from Kei Miller who writes so compellingly and inventively about national/racial Jamaican identity. In particular, his writing is often concerned with perception, self-perception and storytelling traditions. Arthurs’ lively and invigorating short stories engage with similar ideas through the diverse perspectives and tales of many different individuals. These men a...
  • Andre
    All eleven stories in this collection are centered in the Jamaican experience both there and here in the US, mainly NYC, specifically Brooklyn, well because as she says in the story, The Ghost of Jia Yi, “Iowa isn’t the kind of place Jamaicans talk about when they talk about America.” The overriding theme of this work is the angst and emotional capriciousness of traversing this land as an immigrant. Although this particular story takes plac...
  • Dan Friedman
    Alexia Arthur’s How to Love a Jamaican is her debut short story collection. Read in order, Arthur’s stories develop, expand, and mature as the reader progresses through the collection. The stories are related rather than linked, each a varying combination of several themes that make this an especially cohesive short story collection. No surprise, given the volume’s title, the stories all deal with Jamaicans—the volume is dedicated “for ...
  • Shirleen R
    4.75 -- Reading How to Love a Jamaican was a salve that teated the hole I feel, since my Jamaican mother passed away 3 months ago. The foods, the patois, the religious communities, the loneliness, the gendered beliefs about sexuality and romance -- all of it -- ached with truth. These truths made me laugh as well, when I recognized dialogue that echoed verbatim what my mother or father (also from Jamaica) said to me. Like Cecilia in the opening...
  • Tori (InToriLex)
    Content Warning: Substance Abuse, Statutory Rape, Child Death, Mental IllnessThese short stories wove great storytelling and Jamaican culture together effortlessly. In Light Skinned Girls and Kelly Rowland's an NYU student has to hold fast to her own culture while witnessing someone who is far removed it. Two girls struggle to be friends while being honest about how their choices carry much more meaning because if where their from. This was my fa...
  • Ebony Rose
    This is a tough review to write. I wanted to love this book so much. And I really did try to love it. It's closer to 3.5 stars - but a 4 star rating didn't feel honest to me. May adjust as I think this one over in the next few days. My issues with this book are kind of hard to describe. I've grown to really enjoy collections of short stories, and some of my favourite reads in the past couple of years have been short story collections. But this on...
  • Karee
    By far one of my favorite short story reads this year! I really enjoyed this book and highly recommend it.
  • Rana
    The short stories were great but the endings to the short stories were not. Just about all of them felt prematurely truncated, like I was missing paragraphs. I understand that short stories are short but these all felt chopped, like there was no actual ending or wrapping up. However, that being said, I would definitely read more from this author as I loved the actual stories, I just wanted cleaner endings.
  • Zezee
    I don’t read many short story collections. Since starting my blog how many years ago, this is the second short story collection I’ve read. The first one being Things We Lost in the Fire, an unsettling collection of thrilling, gothic stories by Argentine writer Mariana Enriquez, which I read last year and enjoyed.I’ve always assumed that I wouldn’t like short stories because of their short length. But reading these two collections have pro...
  • Kasa Cotugno
    Exceptionally strong collection with a definite focus and some beautiful writing. Most of these stories star young Jamaicans finding new lives in the U.S., usually as students in such places as Iowa and Wisconsin where they have been granted full boat scholarships, many pursue extended degrees. But their ties to their heritage are strong, and the generation preceding this one is presented with affection, their speech lovingly recreated incorporat...
    This review originally appeared on the book review blog: Just One More Pa(i)ge. I received this book as an ARC from NetGalley back in April, and am a little ashamed to say that it took me this long to get to it. Honestly, I completely drawn to the collection when I originally requested it, and was psyched when I was approved to receive it. And then, for some reason, I kept talking myself into reading other books first. Maybe because it was a shor...
  • Michael
    "Light Skinned Girls and Kelly Rowlands"- A New Yorker who is originally from Jamaica does not speak to much people at her school,much less bratty black girls who is whitewashed. Cecilia is the exception, she is not someone who she is normally attracted too but it is something about her personality and her curiosity is piqued. The two of them embark in a sister bond but there are more secrets between them then things that they share in common. Wi...
  • Alex
    3.5 rounded upAn excellent debut short story collection that delves into the experiences of the Jamaican diaspora. Tightly written, Arthurs offers glimpses into the multifaceted nature of immigrant Jamaicans in American, delving into issues of displacement, longing for home, coming to terms with race in the US, and negotiating distinct gender pressures across borders (to name just a few). Although no story rises to the level of outstanding, they ...
  • Imani406
    Great debut novel. Out the 11 stories, I gave 4, 5 ⭐ ratings: Island, Mermaid River, On Shelf & We eat Our Daughters. These were the stories I felt could be written into a complete novel. Well done. I will definitely be on the radar for more by Alexia Arthurs. Yes, I’d recommend this book. Great debut novel. Out the 11 stories, I gave 4, 5 ⭐️ ratings: Island, Mermaid River, On Shelf & We eat Our Daughters. These were the stories I felt...
  • Kate Vocke
    Ahhh... I soo wanted to love this one, but for me, I just couldn't get into it. Maybe it's because I'm not Jamaican, or maybe I'm just not into short stories, but I just couldn't relate to anything, I was a little bored and for me, it didn't really hold my focus. This is a collection of stories, I read each one on its own at different times - sometimes waiting a week between stories. They are all about Jamaicans, but not entirely set in Jamaica- ...
  • Nia Forrester
    I got the ARC from NetGalley and am so glad a friend thought to mention it to me. This collection of short stories is rich with details of my own experience as someone of Jamaican parentage, who spent the better part of my life growing up, living, and working in the U.S. but still feeling deep emotional connectedness to Jamaica. The details of place, culture, dialect, and food were all spot-on, with never a moment that was false or contrived. As ...
  • Mel
    Although I didn't connect with each story here, there was so much heart in most of the vignettes. The theme that carries throughout is of Jamaican men and women living in America for education, or family, or recently returned to the island (and a more subtle sub-theme of mermaids) and the way the cultures crossed and how the MCs were judged by both other Jamaicans and Americans was especially fascinating. Would definitely be interested in seeing ...