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Abeng
     

Abeng

3.7 3
by Michelle Cliff
 

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Ever since Abeng was first published in 1984, Michelle Cliff has steadily become a literary force. Her novels evoke both the clearly delineated hierarchies of colonial Jamaica and the subtleties of present-day island life. Nowhere is her power felt more than in Clare Savage, her Jamaican heroine, who appeared, already grown, in No Telephone to Heaven.

Overview

Ever since Abeng was first published in 1984, Michelle Cliff has steadily become a literary force. Her novels evoke both the clearly delineated hierarchies of colonial Jamaica and the subtleties of present-day island life. Nowhere is her power felt more than in Clare Savage, her Jamaican heroine, who appeared, already grown, in No Telephone to Heaven. Abeng is a kind of prequel to that highly-acclaimed novel and is a small masterpiece in its own right. Here Clare is twelve years old, the light-skinned daughter of a middle-class family, growing up among the complex contradictions of class versus color, blood versus history, harsh reality versus delusion, in a colonized country. In language that surrounds us with a richness of meaning and voices, the several strands of young Clare's heritage are explored: the Maroons, who used the conch shell—the abeng—to pass messages as they fought a guerilla struggle against their English enslavers; and the legacy of Clare's white great-great-grandfater, Judge Savage, who burned his hundred slaves on the eve of their emancipation. A lyrical, explosive coming-of-age story combined with a provocative retelling of the colonial history of Jamaica, this novel is a triumph.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"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

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780452274839
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
05/28/2008
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
176
Sales rank:
625,621
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are Saying About This

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

Meet 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.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

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Abeng 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Cliff¿s ¿Abeng¿ is a powerful nuance that captures the true essence of life in colonized Jamaica and the powerful yet tragic implications of race, class and sexism in this oppressive environment. The use of the Jamaican dialect, Patois, creates the true to life feeling that exist in the novel. Cliff has truly shown what the Jamaican motto, ¿Out of many, one people,¿ means on the genealogical development of the Jamaican people. Her subtle authoritative tone highlights the diabolic effects from slavery to colonialism, which also pushed females in subjectivity. A must read especially for young Jamaican women searching for their true identity as a human being. I am happy my English literature professor, Dr. Carlyle Thompson, included this novelty in our readings.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I don't know where to begin with the horridness of this book. Whomever decided that this was a 'brilliant book' should be thrown into the insane assylum. This book is nothing but pure trash. She obviously did not have enough thought to one even develop a worthy plot, two follow her own thought processes, or three keep out the vulgarity that runs rampant through the book. The book has no visible plot. It just jumps from thought to thought. On top of the lack of plot there is no form of proper sentence structure, adding to the difficulty in even understanding why in the world this woman would write something as horrible as this. Beyond that it goes into graphic details about rape, burning, canniblism, a drunked grandfather who seems to be unable to keep his privates in his pants, and a deeply violent and extremely disturbing relationship of Clare's parents. I would not recommend this book to ANYONE. It is neither an enjoyable or a desireable read. This book was required for my college class and I feel that the time that it takes to get through this book would be better spent doing something that you would enjoy. Spend your time reading something far more worthy of your time and your money. You won't be sorry for not reading this horrendous book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Claire Savage is the child- woman who emerges at the centre of this exquistely written work.The reader cannnot help but fall in love with Claire's story and the beauty of Michelle Cliff's writing.