This powerhouse collection of stories brings to vivid life the experiences of a diverse cast of (mostly) women of (mostly) Jamaican descent around the world, from Florida to France to 1950s London to 1960s Panama and beyond. The very first story, “Florida Lives,” about a Black couple who move from San Francisco to Florida only to suffer from the heat, some bats, and their tacky neighbors, is blazoned on my mind and I don’t think I’m ever going to stop thinking about it (or look at tacky neighbors the same way ever again). These stories movingly explore identity, belonging, and home all through the complexities of the Jamaican diaspora, immigration, assimilation, colonialism, racism, sexism, and class—all through a vivid cast of characters who will remain on your mind long after each story ends. I’m not a big short story reader, but this is truly a must-read collection and highly recommended for fans of The Secret Lives of Church Ladies!
The Islands by Dionne Irving, (List Price: $16.95, Catapult, 9781646220663, November 2022)
Reviewed by Megan Bell, Underground Books in Carrollton, Georgia