CRB Review of WYCTHS

08 May / by: Editor, StarApple / 0 comments / tags : ,,

Nicholas Laughlin’s review of Sharon Leach’s What you can’t tell him stories is posted here on the new Caribbean Review of Books website.

Here’s an excerpt…

Those layers, and the complexities of being an ambitious, independent, savvy middle-class (or working-to-get-there) woman in contemporary Jamaica, are the subject of most of these stories. Leach’s heroines (or anti-heroines) are typically career women, executive assistants and communications consultants. They may live in plush Upper St Andrew mansions or tiny studio flats, but their homes are carefully decorated. They dress well, and know the inside of a Victoria’s Secret catalogue.

They like the finer things — art, wine, travel — and if they can’t afford them yet, they plan to. They are straightforward about their sexual needs, casual about erotic flings, but less sure about “settling down.” There are tens of thousands of women like them in Kingston, Port of Spain, Bridgetown — the whole urban Caribbean. And, remarkably, they have been largely absent from West Indian writing until now.

Many Anglophone Caribbean writers are still preoccupied with rural or working-class characters, or with the past; exemplary subjects for fiction, but too often ignoring the real, risky here and now of contemporary Caribbean life, and the fact that our societies are increasingly urban and middle-class. Simply by writing, frankly and sympathetically, about characters who one imagines are much like her own peers … Leach has broken through an all but unacknowledged barrier in West Indian letters. She reminds us that one of fiction’s responsibilities is to show us to ourselves.

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