From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. A fresh, forthright, affecting memoir by Jamaican performance artist Chin finds warmth and humor in her abject, parentless childhood. The Paradise of the title is the slum of Montego Bay, Jamaica, where Chin spent her hardscrabble adolescence, and her remarkable memoir is framed around her mother's rejection of her and her older brother, Delano, and the uncertainty about who Chin's father really was. Born to a young, street-savvy girl with a penchant for distinguished older men with money (in this case, a local Chinese businessman who always insisted he was not Chin's father), Chin spent her early years along with Delano under the care of their stern, God-fearing, illiterate grandmother. Early on, the spirited, defiant youngster learned to lie about her parentage, while the poverty and neediness of the siblings rendered them charity cases for relatives in Bethel Town and Kingston. Once, their mother came to visit them from where she lived in Montreal, Canada, though she quickly foisted them onto other relatives for good, leaving Chin, at age nine, to fend for herself in the shack of her harsh great-aunt whose boys routinely attempted to rape her. Nonetheless, Chin excelled at school, thanks to financial help from the man who refused to acknowledge his paternity, and became an emigrant success story later in New York. Her courage in coming out as a lesbian underscores her intrepidity in making this story her own. (June)
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"A completely absorbing account of how a girl born into denial and contempt can grow up resilient, sane, and full of purpose. She also shows me a culture I knew far too little about -- the everyday life of young people in Jamaica and the threat of violence looming over anyone who might be too independent or queer or outrageous. How wonderful that this outrageous, talented, determined woman has given us her story." -- Dorothy Allison, author of Bastard Out of Carolina
"Staceyann Chin's memoir is a heartbreaking feat of unflinching memory and language. Set in a Jamaica far from the tourist brochures, The Other Side of Paradise
is Chin's rich and nuanced story of family and abandonment, love and brutality, and a child's struggle to survive and find a home that will accept her. A remarkable young woman emerges, whose gift for poetry has been forged by poverty, religiosity, and a circle of adults who found the child in their care. This is A Portrait of the Artist
written for our age. I love this book -- and I am completely hamstrung by the feelings it evokes." -- Walter Mosley
"The human family is a complex ecosystem, a magnificent experiment of righteous diversity. The Other Side of Paradise
captures the evocative struggle of one strong but fragile flower. Staceyann breaks our hearts a little, and then brings us safely, gratefully, home." -- Rebecca Walker, author of One Big Happy Family
and Black White and Jewish
"Staceyann's courage, sensitivity, and bravery are exposed on these vulnerable pages. Captured is the fire, passion, and light I experience when she performs. Liberating, beautiful, and life-affirming, The Other Side of Paradise
is simply incredible." -- Russell Simmons, author of Do You!
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.