JIS News

The Jamaican Consulate in New York recently hosted an evening of reading and singing, featuring Jamaican writer Colin Channer, who read from the latest literary work ‘The Girl with the Golden Shoes.’
Described by author Russell Banks as “a near perfect moral fable,” the book is a dazzling and picturesque novella, which uses native language that is dancing and juicy. Set in 1942 on the imagined island of San Carlos, a cultural cocktail of Trinidad, Cuba, and Jamaica, the novel tells the story of Estrella Thompson, a 14-year-old who’s forced to fend for herself when she’s banished from the isolated fishing village where she’s lived all her life for wanting to read and write.
But Estrella is no victim. Neither is she an ordinary child. Prematurely ripe in body and mind, and contemptuous of the boundaries placed on her by gender, race, and social class, she takes the villagers’ rejection as a chance to change her life.
She wants to go to Europe, the place where everything interesting seems to happen, including the war, which she’s heard about incessantly on rediffusion radio. But she has to get money for a ticket on a steamer, which means she has to get a job, which means she has to get a pair of shoes and she’s never worn a pair in her life.
Estrella’s journey goes awry when she takes the wrong bus and ends up in a hostile town. From the one-armed madman who steals her belongings, to the lonely black truck driver, who forces her to listen to his lecture on politics and race, to the Spanish Creole seducer who rides into her life on horseback, to the white soldiers who attempt to break her spirit -the characters that come into Estrella’s life are as changed by her as she is by them.
The Girl with the Golden Shoes is a deftly written story that swims against the tide of cynicism that has come to dominate the best American fiction. Its propulsive plot is driven by a heroine, who’s too naive to back down and too smart to swap hope for disillusion as a central belief.
Channer, an assistant professor of English at Medgar Evers College (CUNY) in Brooklyn, and founder/artistic director of the annual Calabash Literary Festival at Treasure Beach, Jamaica also penned the best-selling novel ‘Waiting in Vain’, and the collection of stories ‘Passing Through’. He is the editor of the groundbreaking anthology ‘Iron Balloons: Hit fictions from Jamaica’s Calabash Writer’s Workshop’, published in 2006 by Akashic Books of Brooklyn, NY.
The book reading/signing was a collaborative effort of The Jamaican Consulate General, Akashic Books, the University of the West Indies’ (UWI) Alumni Association New York Chapter and the International Consortium of Caribbean Professionals (ICCP).

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