The best and most recent fiction by Jamaican women writers

Elias Rodriques Author Of All the Water I've Seen Is Running
By Elias Rodriques

Who am I?

As a Jamaican migrant, I often read Jamaican fiction to feel recognized, but I struggle with the word “best,” so consider this an exceedingly tentative ranking. I read each of these texts to learn about what it means to be a part of the Jamaican diaspora and to write a Jamaican novel, and each one elicited in me something that I often did not know about myself. Their attention to gender, to migration, to family, and more are as enlightening as they are captivating. And if that is not enough, then come for the plots, all of which are gripping, and the prose, all of which delights.


I wrote...

All the Water I've Seen Is Running

By Elias Rodriques,

Book cover of All the Water I've Seen Is Running

What is my book about?

Along the Intracoastal waterways of North Florida, Daniel and Aubrey navigated adolescence with the electric intensity that radiates from young people defined by otherness: Aubrey, a self-identified "Southern cracker" and Daniel, the mixed-race son of Jamaican immigrants. When the news of Aubrey’s death reaches Daniel in New York, years after they’d lost contact, he is left to grapple with the legacy of his precious and imperfect love for her. 

Buoyed by his teenage track-team buddies―Twig, a long-distance runner; Desmond, a sprinter; Egypt, Des’s girlfriend; and Jess, a chef―Daniel begins a frantic search for meaning in Aubrey’s death. Sensitive to the complexities of class, race, and sexuality both in the American South and in Jamaica, All the Water I’ve Seen Is Running is a novel of uncommon tenderness, grief, and joy.

The books I picked & why

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These Ghosts Are Family

By Maisy Card,

Book cover of These Ghosts Are Family

Why this book?

Maisy Card’s These Ghosts Are Family revolves around one of the great plots that are all too common in real life, a secret family. The central patriarch has faked his death, stole an identity, and abandoned his kin to migrate to the United States, where he has made another family. Card’s portrait of migration, kinship, and history is as thought-provoking as it is nuanced, and the prose is a joy to read. And I don’t want to spoil anything, but the farthest back historical chapter will stick with you for some time.

These Ghosts Are Family

By Maisy Card,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked These Ghosts Are Family as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Longlisted for the 2020 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize

A "rich, ambitious debut novel" (The New York Times Book Review) that reveals the ways in which a Jamaican family forms and fractures over generations, in the tradition of Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi.

*An Entertainment Weekly, Millions, and LitHub Most Anticipated Book of 2020 Pick and Buzz Magazine's Top New Book of the New Decade*

Stanford Solomon's shocking, thirty-year-old secret is about to change the lives of everyone around him. Stanford has done something no one could ever imagine. He is a man who faked his own death and stole…

How to Love a Jamaican: Stories

By Alexia Arthurs,

Book cover of How to Love a Jamaican: Stories

Why this book?

Beyond the complicated portraits of loss and love, of diaspora and belonging, and of pain and joy, what keeps me coming back to How to Love a Jamaican is its prose. The book is so recognizably Jamaican in its humor and its honesty about plots that feel so identifiable that, at times, I could not help but wonder if Arthurs was writing about relatives or friends of mine.

How to Love a Jamaican: Stories

By Alexia Arthurs,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked How to Love a Jamaican as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'In this thrilling debut collection Alexia Arthurs is all too easy to love.' - Zadie Smith

Tenderness and cruelty, loyalty and betrayal, ambition and regret - these are the tensions at the heart of Alexia Arthurs' debut book about Jamaican immigrants and their families back home. Some stories ask big questions about the things that define a person, others explode small moments of deep significance and lasting effect. Sweeping from close-knit island communities to the streets of New York City, How to Love a Jamaican offers a portrait of a nation, a people, and a way of life.

Vibrant, lyrical…


The Marvellous Equations of the Dread: A Novel in Bass Riddim

By Marcia Douglas,

Book cover of The Marvellous Equations of the Dread: A Novel in Bass Riddim

Why this book?

Douglass is the kind of writer many of us are jealous of. Her skill with a pen is a marvel. Reading her sentences, I often wonder how she chose these words, how she came to think in this way, and how I could write less like myself and more like her. All of her books are worth reading, but this one’s tale of reincarnation and of life on the margins helped me see that the world is so much more magical than I often take it to be.

The Marvellous Equations of the Dread: A Novel in Bass Riddim

By Marcia Douglas,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Marvellous Equations of the Dread as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Is me-Bob. Bob Marley." Reincarnated as homeless Fall-down man, Bob Marley sleeps in a clock tower built on the site of a lynching in Half Way Tree, Kingston. The ghosts of Marcus Garvey and King Edward VII are there too, drinking whiskey and playing solitaire. No one sees that Fall-down is Bob Marley, no one but his long-ago love, the deaf woman, Leenah, and, in the way of this otherworldly book, when Bob steps into the street each day, five years have passed. Jah ways are mysterious ways, from Kingston's ghettoes to London, from Haile Selaisse's Ethiopian palace and back…

Patsy

By Nicole Dennis-Benn,

Book cover of Patsy

Why this book?

If you have not yet read Patsy, just read it. I won’t regale you with tales of its critical and commercial success, as you may already have heard about it. What I will say is that this is a book that will stick with you. Its portrait of longing, of love, of motherhood, and of childhood is so attentive to the thought of its central two characters—a mother and child—that they will feel so real to you that you will think of them when you encounter their facsimiles in your own life. 

Patsy

By Nicole Dennis-Benn,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Patsy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Heralded for writing "deeply memorable . . . women" (Jennifer Senior, New York Times), Nicole Dennis-Benn introduces readers to an unforgettable heroine for our times: the eponymous Patsy, who leaves her young daughter behind in Jamaica to follow Cicely, her oldest friend, to New York. Beating with the pulse of a long-withheld confession and peppered with lilting patois, Patsy gives voice to a woman who looks to America for the opportunity to love whomever she chooses, bravely putting herself first. But to survive as an undocumented immigrant, Patsy is forced to work as a nanny, while back in Jamaica her…

Queenie

By Candice Carty-Williams,

Book cover of Queenie

Why this book?

On top of all the other great things about this book, Queenie is a truly tremendous portrait of life in one’s mid-twenties. All of the rawness, the humor, the difficulty, and the triumphs of a time when the stakes of everything seem so big and so small come across here. And like all those great novels named after their protagonist, the central character deserves every bit of attention that the narrator and other characters give her, and the book deserves all the praise critics have given it.

Queenie

By Candice Carty-Williams,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Queenie as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

ONE OF TIME’S 100 BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR
ONE OF NPR’S BEST BOOKS OF 2019

NAMED ONE OF THE MOST ANTICIPATED BOOKS OF 2019 BY WOMAN’S DAY, NEWSDAY, PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, BUSTLE, AND BOOK RIOT!

“[B]rilliant, timely, funny, heartbreaking.” —Jojo Moyes, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Me Before You

For fans ofLusterandI May Destroy You,a disarmingly honest,unapologetically black, and undeniably witty debut novel that will speak to those who have gone looking for love and found something very different in its place.

Queenie Jenkins is a twenty-five-year-old Jamaican British woman living in London, straddling two cultures and slotting…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in undocumented immigrants, Jamaica, and self-actualization?

6,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about undocumented immigrants, Jamaica, and self-actualization.

Undocumented Immigrants Explore 12 books about undocumented immigrants
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And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

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