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Abeng Paperback


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Plume (September 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452274834
  • ISBN-13: 978-0452274839
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.4 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #406,542 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Powerful and often lyric … an important work."
Library Journal

"The beauty and authority of her writing are coupled with profound insight."
—Toni Morrison

"Her keen eye for detail and pithy anecdotal descriptions bring Jamaica's present and past to life."
New York Times Book Review

"Jamaican history, lore, and lanscape are evocatively re-created in this multilayered novel. … Through its richness and diversity of detail, Abeng achieves a timeless universality."
Publisher's Weekly

"Abeng is a solid achievement, a book that offers a wealth of history and culture. … [Cliff's] perception of character, her receptivity to sensuous detail, her rendering of the language, make our journey … a richly textured experience."
Plexus

About the Author

Michelle Cliff was born in Jamaica and is the author of three acclaimed novels: Abeng, its sequel, No Telephone to Heaven, and Free Enterprise (Plume). She has also written a collection of short stories, Bodies of Water (Plume), and two poetry collections, The Land of Look Behind and Claiming an Identity They Tought Me to Despise. She is Allan K. Smith Professor of English Language and Literature at Trinity College in Connecticut and divides her time between Hartford, Connecticut, and Santa Cruz, California.

More About the Author

Michelle Cliff was born in Jamaica and is the author of two previous novels, No Telephone to Heaven and Abeng; a collection of short stories, and two poetry collections. Her fiction, poetry, and esays have appeared in numerous publications, including Parnassus and the VLS.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

49 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Julie Bolt on August 21, 2000
Format: Paperback
I am considering teaching Abeng in a literature class and am shocked to see that it had only been reviewed by one customer. It is a striking and powerful book.
Abeng is a coming-of-age story about a bi-racial adolescent girl in Jamaica who must face questions of race, class, sexuality, dominant ideology and identity. The book is also a stirring exploration of the fragility of friendship; it depicts trust, betrayal, and redemption. It is also a geography of the complexity and nuance of family. There are very few books that can handle such complex subject matter with the honesty and lyricism found here. I read this book several years ago and it has stayed with me. I should point out that it is at times disturbing, but also funny, moving, and thought-provoking. Sometimes I return to the last passages since they so beautifully convey the poignancy of childhood. Ultimately the book traces the early formation of the protagonist's revolutionary consciousness.
The plot meanders somewhat and skirts ideological analysis. However, in the end all the strands dovetail beautifully. The language, imagery, and symbolism are rich. Abeng shows us how our hearts and minds are born of the world around us, but also that we can change that world by discovering new worlds inside of us.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Samantha on December 22, 2002
Format: Paperback
Abeng is an incredible work of post-colonial literature, that via the life of protagonist Clare Savage, vividly explores the notions and ways in which racism, colourism, homophobia and economic-class division has embedded itself in the social fabric of British-dominated Jamaica.
While I cannot describe in totality the immense power such writing has---if I were to advise the potential reader of anything they should seek in the text it would be the parallel identity Clare feels between the cultural attachments and perspectives of her parents Boy and Kitty. And subsequently how their behaviour is exemplified through the world at large around Clare. "She felt split into two parts---white and not white, town and country, scholarship and privilege, Boy and Kitty (Cliff 119.")
Boy engrossed in his own sad hegemony, is a "cuffy"-want-to-be "Buckra" * The epitome of the social problems facing Jamaican society, his denial of his own "blackness" has led him to despise and criticise those whose pigmentation is darker than his, whose economic situation is more desolate---and particularly those whose connections to their African heritage have not been severed. He carries with him the belief that western idealisms and civilisation are superior.
Kitty, also of multi-racial heritage is the near opposite of her husband. She cherishes her Black ancestry, but as Cliff indirectly (and then directly towards the end) notes in the novel, her love of Blackness is rooted in victimisation and kept secret from her bigot husband. While she may appear to be submissive to the reader, she is indeed the stronger half in her marriage; and just as strong of a influence on her Daughter(s) as Boy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lola on December 25, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Extremely colorful novel. Cliff made me feel like I was literally there with the characters. Cliff was extremely descriptive while she narrated. A great story! Would definitely recommend to all interested in Caribbean life and history!
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By Laura on February 23, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I ordered this book for a book report I had to complete. The only problem I had is that it didnt come in the time it was suppose to- I lost credit on my project because of this. it was still a great book!
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