The Penguin Book of Caribbean Short Stories edited by E A Markham

The Penguin Book of Caribbean Short StoriesThe Penguin Book of Caribbean Short Stories by E.A. Markham
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’m still not a huge fan of short stories. But I was fishing through a pile of books and this caught my eye, and considering I have little to no experience with Caribbean writing I was hoping – knowing nothing whatsoever about the editor – that this would give me an introductory crash course. Further broaden my literary horizons, if you will. TPBCSS certainly lives up to expectations. Markham starts off with a lengthy introduction, one I couldn’t finish, covering the evolution of Caribbean writing and their famous authors. I’m sure if you can keep your eyes from glazing over it’s extremely informative. Personally I managed to read roughly seven pages out of 65. Even that was a struggle. Once you conquer the introduction Markham starts you off with the basics: Caribbean folk tales and legends. Some are told in Caribbean patois. Should you be unfamiliar with such it can be challenging to follow. Pushing through is worth it, as overall they are quite good. The following section is the short story collection; tiny print stretching almost 400 pages. This isn’t a book you can slam through in an afternoon. It’s a sizable undertaking. I know typically my review of a short story collection includes a one or two sentence synopsis of each story, but in this case I will have to skip it because my review will be a week long. I’ll cover some highlights for you. There’s very little violence. One story stands out as having the only LGBTQ characters in the entire collection – Baby – but it also has a very descriptive rape and murder scene and homophobic ranting, so do be extra cautious around that one. You Left the Door Open also includes a burglary and rape. Those are the only two noticeably violent tales. A few I especially enjoyed were Miss Joyce and Bobcat, The Laughter of the Wapishanas, The Man Who Loved Attending Funerals, The Baker’s Story and The House of Funerals. There are epistolary stories, ones told by beggars, by immigrants. A little something for everyone. So much variety, you’re sure to find a couple you enjoy.

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