Jamaican writers bust out


Colin ChannerIn her article, “Emboldened by Reggae, Jamaican Writers Bust Out,” (New York Times, June 27, 2006), Dinitia Smith describes “How to Beat a Child in the Right and Proper Way” by Jamaican writer Colin Channer as “irresistable and captivating” and “a big breath of a piece” and “something of a tour de force, spoken in various registers of Jamaican English by Ciselyn, a 68-year-old Jamaican woman who works at Macy’s and is giving a talk in a speech class she is taking.”

Smith reports that in the story, Cisely tells of how, one day in Jamaica, she went to pick up her daughter, Karen, from school and Karen wasn’t there. When Karen finally appeared, she was very rude.

Cisely tells her speech class how she dealt with this:

“Sink them down again below the grass, and stand up over them like you have a machete in your hand. If they push up they head again before they time, don’t hesitate. Take one swing and chop it off.”

Smith says “The Right and Proper Way” reaches a terrible and inevitable conclusion.

“I paint her body red,” Ciselyn cries. “I look at her and say, ‘You think you is a woman in this place?’ Whap. ‘You think you is woman, eh?’ Spa-DIE. ‘What you have to hide?’ Whap” And so on. And on.

“After that, let me tell you,” Ciselyn says, “she see everything my way.”

Colin Channer, who is also the editor of Iron Balloons, an anthology of Jamaican writing published by Akashic Books in May.

“The 11 stories in Iron Balloons, some by writers who have taken part in the Calabash workshops, have universal themes, stitched into a Jamaican fabric. The characters slip between patois and regular English. And the stories have none of the genteel Victorianism that has hung over Jamaican fiction in the past,” Smith adds.

Related Books:

Iron Ballon, Satisfy My Soul,Waiting in Vain,The Girl with the Golden Shoes,Passing Through

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