Abeng

( 3 )

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...

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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&#151to 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.

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What People Are Saying

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

  • ISBN-13: 9780452274839
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 5/28/2008
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 176
  • Sales rank: 368,302
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 7.98 (h) x 0.51 (d)

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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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 3 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 29, 2005

    a truly digusting book

    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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 30, 2005

    Powerful Nuance

    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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2004

    Powerful

    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.

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