'A Million Aunties'
By: Alecia McKenzie - Akashic Books, $14.95
Description: After a personal tragedy upends his world, American-born artist Chris travels to his mother’s homeland in the Caribbean hoping to find some peace and tranquility.
He plans to spend his time painting in solitude and coming to terms with his recent loss and his fractured relationship with his father. Instead, he discovers a new extended and complicated “family.”
Verdict: In this quite exhilarating, at times, fraught and internally motivated at others, new book from Alecia McKenzies, we first meet Chris, an artist traveling to Jamaica for the first time as an adult.
His mother is from Jamaica, but it seems he didn't visit her much due to a traumatic experience, and so his friend (and art dealer) Stephen, has encouraged him to actually visit her, and the country, to recuperate, paint, and relax.
As the story unfolds, and not to give too much away, just simply set a scene, Chris ends up staying with Stephen’s Aunt, who takes him around the village, introducing him to everyone.
He likes it. He feels at home there. He is calm and collected. He is smiling. Furthermore, Chris starts imagining what it would be like to turn Stephen's Aunt's home into a bed and breakfast!
Indeed, after only a week Chris finds himself taken with the villagers and their lives and soon thereafter he visits his Mother’s childhood home, meets his uncle and is given a look into his family history.
But, and whilst enjoying all that Jamaica and the villagers and his family he has has to offer, he is urgently called back to America to handle a difficult situation.
Told from different view points all the way along, and chock full of wondrous tales of how simple acts of kindness can bring us all together, 'A Million Aunties' is a compelling book about unlikely love, friendship, and community, sprinkled with delightful surprises along the way.
Alecia McKenzie is a Jamaican writer currently based in France. Her first collection of short stories, Satellite City, and her novel, Sweetheart, have both won Commonwealth writers prizes.
Sweetheart has been translated into French and was awarded the Prix Carbet des lycéens in 2017. Her other books include Stories from Yard, Doctor's Orders, and When the Rain Stopped in Natland.
McKenzie's work has appeared in a range of literary magazines and in anthologies such as Stories from Blue Latitudes, The Oxford Book of Caribbean Short Stories, Bridges, Global Tales, Girls Night In, and To Exist Is to Resist.
She has edited two collections of contemporary short stories, and her poetry has been published in various international journals including The Caribbean Writer and the Journal of Postcolonial Writing. Her most recent novel is this one, 'A Million Aunties.'
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