Man Book Prize winner Marlon James joins a list of accomplished writers in the Jamaican edition of Akashic's award-winning series set in intriguing cities. Each of the eleven original stories is set in its own district. Lambda Literary Award winner Thomas Glave sets his story in upscale Norbrook. Forward Prize winner Kei Miller sets his story in gritty August Town. In this eclective collection detectives, hit men, femme fatales and lost foreigners provide noir's needed familiars. Complex characterization, accurate language and a daring range of story structures taunt the genre with a dare. A Book of the Year selection by the UK's Spectator, Kingston Noir is what happens when Jamaica's leading writers look at Killsome with a peculiar combination of coldness and grace.
Contributors: Chris Abani, Colin Channer, Kwame Dawes, Marcia Douglas, Christopher John Farley, Thomas Glave, Marlon James, Kei Miller, Patricia Powell, Leone Ross, Ian Thomson.
“Kingston Noir subverts the simplistic sunshine/reggae/spliff-smoking image of Jamaica at almost every turn . . . The collection amply rewards the reader with a rich interplay of geographies and themes that Channer imagined at the outset but which also echoes [Raymond] Chandler's observation of Los Angeles' noir milieu: ‘The streets were dark with something more than night.‘”
— Los Angeles Times
“Kingston Noir goes darker and deeper than any before . . . the purest of noir, and the richest depictions of Jamaica ... Channer's own contribution, "The Monkey Man," takes the cake on depraved despair. All the stories share themes: societal complicity in evil, the empowerment of corruption, and the infinite hold of a certain type of fear.”
— Huffington Post
“Thoroughly well-written stories . . . fans of noir will enjoy this batch of sordid tales set in the sweltering heat of the tropics.”
— Publishers Weekly
The Girl with the Golden Shoes is a dazzling and picaresque novella of equal parts Gabriel García Márquez, Mark Twain, and Bob Marley. Set in 1942, on the imagined island of San Carlos — a cultural cocktail of Trinidad, Cuba, and Jamaica — it tells the story of Estrella Thompson, a 14-year-old who’s forced to fend for herself when she’s banished from the isolated fishing village where she’s lived all her life. Her crime? Wanting to read and write. But Estrella is no victim. Neither is she an ordinary child. Prematurely ripe in body and mind, and contemptuous of the boundaries placed on her by gender, race, and social class, she takes the villagers’ rejection as a chance to change her life. The Girl with the Golden Shoes is a deftly written story that swims against the tide of cynicism that has come to dominate the best American fiction. Its propulsive plot is driven by a heroine too naive to back down and too smart to swap hope for disillusion as a central belief.
“Estrella Roselyn Maria Eugenia Thompson, the heroine of the short, beautiful novella The Girl With the Golden Shoes, is one of those characters who steal your heart. It seems not exactly correct to call her a character, however. She feels too real, too genuine.”
— Washington Post Book World
“The Girl with the Golden Shoes is a nearly perfect moral fable … Colin Channer is clearly in the business of helping to make great literature.”
— Russell Banks, author of The Darling and Continental Drift
“This is a jewel of a book. Channer’s language is dancing and juicy, his humor incisive, his vision penetrating, and his hero, nicknamed Pepper for her stinging retorts, is magnificent.”
— Booklist (starred review)
“Jamaican author Colin Channer has been called a ‘reggae writer’ and even the Bob Marley of Jamaican literature … He puts the reggae aesthetic to good use in the book, telling the very gritty story of a lone Caribbean girl forced to grow up quickly on a fictional island similar to colonial Jamaica. His fable-like writing has drawn comparisons to writers such as Gabriel García Márquez.”
— Minneapolis Star-Tribune
Reggae’s rebel spirit blazes in this hot selection of short fiction from Jamaica’s Calabash Writer’s Workshop. Set in the Caribbean and the USA, the stories sweep across a range of moods and genres to create a narrative LP of fascinating voices. From the old lady who gives a “how to” speech on beating children, to the schizophrenic singer who thinks he’s Bob Marley, to the hotel maid who gets a sexual offer that she can’t refuse, the diverse mix of characters are linked by the fundamental principle that all clichéd conventions must be shouted off the page. In the proudly odd tradition of Jamaican music, the selections seek to entertain while asking daring questions that provoke new ideas into being.
Contributors: Colin Channer, Marlon James, Elizabeth Nunez, Kwame Dawes, Kaylie Jones, Geoffrey Philp, Rudolph Wallace, Konrad Kirlew, Alwin Bully, A-dziko Simba, and Sharon Leach.
"The story comes at you with hurricane force and an irresistible title, ‘How to Beat a Child the Right and Proper Way.’ It is the creation of the Jamaican writer Colin Channer, who is also the editor of Iron Balloons, an anthology of a new kind of Jamaican writing… ‘The Right and Proper Way’ is a big breath of a piece, 54 pages long, and something of a tour de force…"
— New York Times
"The ability to eloquently delineate a particular experience—Caribbean life—accounts in large part for the significance and success of Iron Balloons … For Channer the emphasis is always on culture and quality—Iron Balloons is living proof."
— Toronto Star (Canada)
"The pick of the collection is Channer’s own contribution. ‘How to Beat a Child the Right and Proper Way’ is a hilariously digressive monologue delivered by a Jamaican woman to a class of mature students in the United States … At first she seems to be an interfering tyrant, but her moving tale unravels to show a sympathetic, contradictory person."
— Times Literary Supplement (UK)
Spanning the early 1900s up to modern times, these sexy, witty stories set on an imagined West Indian island trace the intersecting lives of travelers, expatriates, and local folks in ways that shock, illuminate, and reveal. From the American photographer who finds her world disturbed by new forms of love and lust, to a charismatic priest confronted by the earthly perks of fame and stardom, the diverse mix of characters are united by the universal search for love and understanding — a challenge on an island simmering with issues of politics, power, and race. Each story shines against its own tableau — World War II, the rise of Fidel Castro, Mt. Pelée devastating Martinique, import-export trading, Bob Marley in the days before his music echoed all around the world. As men and women fall in love, marry and remarry, face moral conflicts and new identities, Soufrière the volcano sees it all. From plantation days to the roots of revolution, it bears simmering witness to the century that engulfs this tiny island of eternal humor, passion, and allure.
“Set on the fictional San Carlos, 'an island fascinated by the subtleties of blood,' this imaginative collection chronicles 100 years in the life of a community of interrelated characters … Channer is a gifted storyteller. He marshals the weighty themes of love, sex, race, class and progress into an epic and vibrant narrative.”
— Washington Post
“A splendid collection by one of the Caribbean Diaspora’s finest writers. These tales are masterful distillations that teem with humor, with passion, with hope. Channer’s compassion never fails to amaze.”
— Junot Díaz, author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
“Colin Channer is a wonderfully funny, piercing, crafty and compassionate writer, and Passing Through is a remarkable literary achievement. The stories bring with them the keen thrill of having discovered a truly fresh, original voice.”
— Dan Chaon, author of Stay Awake
Set primarily in New York, London and Jamaica, Waiting In Vain is a bop along the edge of genre writing by a storyteller who takes reggae seriously as a literary mode. This national bestselling novel and Critic's Choice Selection of the Washington Post is in turns romantic, political, spiritual, absurd, erotic and tragic — family drama, love story, comedy, mystery, and lyric cross-dressing as prose. The story is simple: two writers with Jamaican backgrounds, Adrian and Sylvia, meet by chance at a gallery and each stuns the other in love. But there are issues: distance, present entanglements, past ones too, trust, class and the downward spiral of Ian, their mutual friend. Holding coherence is a classic third person that partakes in give and take with dialogue pitched specific to the area code.
“The love story is interesting, but not the most compelling element of the novel: What is most intriguing is the assurance of the voice, the strength of characterization and the clear redefinition of the Caribbean novel — in which the discourses of post-colonialism have been usurped by the creative assurance of reggae’s aesthetic — a quintessentially modern aesthetic that has finally found the kind of dialogue between popular music and art that we have not seen in a long time.”
— Washington Post Book World
“Channer’s prose is infused with serious Caribbean lilt — the patois is perfectly rendered — and heavy, heavy love vibes. Vain is what happens when a gifted writer decides to get romantic.”
— Time Out New York
“Waiting In Vain is a vividly sophisticated story of love and deep desire set in lush Jamaica, London’s gritty Brixton, and frenetic New York.”
— Philadelphia Inquirer