Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Six Stories and an Essay by Andrea Levy

review by Maryom

With such a plain, unadorned title there's no doubt about what you're getting here - a collection of six stories and an essay from award-winning author Andrea Levy. It brings together 5 previously published short stories, spanning twenty years, with a new one written to coincide with the centenary of WW1, and an essay on how writing has helped the author's exploration of her Jamaican heritage and her relationship to the white society she grew up in. Now you might think that stories sound like fun and an essay a bit dull, but I found it equally fascinating -  not just the inside glimpse of the author's inspiration but the contrasting outlooks of Jamaicans, who saw Britain as their mother country, and the British who know next to nothing about Jamaica, and how, after a brief mention of the abolition of slavery, the West Indies barely get a mention in history books.
These themes recur in several of the stories which draw heavily on the experiences of Jamaicans coming to Britain to settle or to volunteer in the armed forces. Their naive veneration of the mother country - and their sharp awakening to the mistrust and prejudice that awaits them. "Loose Change" looks at immigration from a different angle - many of us claim to be sympathetic to the plight of refugees, but would we really put ourselves out for them?
"The Diary" tells the story of an overlooked theatrical dresser who finds a way to get revenge, and in
"Deborah" a child's game turns nasty.

The stories are by turn funny, disturbing, thought-provoking and, most importantly, enjoyable reads. My favourite was incidentally the shortest - "February" with its description of a Jamaican winter, the cool breezes, ripe fruit, and scented flowers - and the twist at the end, the seemingly unbridgeable gap, that it's not at all what an English teacher expects to hear.

Maryom's review - 5 stars
Publisher - 
Tinder Press
Genre -
Adult fiction, non-fiction, literary, short stories

No comments:

Post a Comment