How to Love a Jamaican by Alexia Arthurs

The title of this debut collection of short stories might mimic that of a “How to” manual but Alexia Arthurs’s prose is anything but didactic. In the opening story, “Light-Skinned Girls and Kelly Rowlands,” the narrator Kimberley observes of her friend Cecilia that she was the “kind of black girl who didn’t think about her race as much as I did.” Although Kimberley initially views her friend as “a white girl trapped in a black girl’s body—an Oreo,” her judgment comes to seem too easy. Kimberley had also been labelled “an Oreo” at school because she liked spending time in the ceramics classroom.

Some of Arthurs’s protagonists live in Jamaica, others have been transplanted to North America and a few inhabit, at least psychologically, the limbo between the two.