Prolific Canadian novelist Clarke finally found fame with his 2003 novel, The Polished Hoe. In this follow-up, Clarke stays true to his politically charged style, reporting various manifestations of racism through the life of a Caribbean immigrant living in Canada. Like the author, Idora Morrison is a Barbados native living in Toronto. Her deadbeat husband has left her for New York City, and her beloved teenage son has disappeared into gang life. Unable to cope, Idora loses herself in meandering stories of her life and 25 years in Toronto. She recalls daily prejudice from white Canadians, the embarrassment at her race's media degradation and her rewarding but uneasy friendship with Josephine, a white woman. Finding constant comfort in the Bible story of Jonah and the Whale, Idora finally, painfully, finds her way back to life. An introspective examination of cultural racism and the life of minorities, this detailed (though loaded) narrative should strike a chord with Clarke's audience. (Sept.)
African Canadian writer Clarke is a Giller Prize- and Commonwealth Prize-winning author whose works can be expected to bring the reader into the mind of the protagonist, and he doesn't disappoint with his new novel. The titular "more" is a metaphor for the dreams and aspirations of black Caribbean people looking for prosperity in the great White North: they want "more" education, "more" money, "more" employment opportunities, and higher social status. These are the dreams of the novel's protagonist, Idora Morrison, who works at the University of Toronto as an assistant manager in the kitchen. Idora wants her son BJ to be a university scholar instead of engaging in a life of crime. Clarke cannily uses flashbacks to show that Canadians have a long way to go in addressing race relations issues. VERDICT This tough and affecting novel will shatter American misconceptions about Canadian race relations. A good option for serious readers.—Orville Lloyd Douglas, Brampton, Ont.
Clarke (The Polished Hoe, 2004, etc.) presents a rant/lament about the West Indian immigrant experience that teeters between dazzling and numbing. Idora Morrison is on the verge of drowning in the maelstrom of Toronto. The "more" that Idora wants hardly seems like much: a brighter future, mainly. Adrift from the Barbados culture that nourished her, she fearfully prays for her teenaged son BJ to "stop dressing like a rapper [and] walking like a penguin." But ever since an Italian boy in their neighborhood accused him of stealing and he was hauled off to the slammer while still a kid, BJ has been trouble. As adolescence descends, posters of Marcus Garvey and Malcolm X appear on his bedroom wall. Assistant Manager of Daytime and Supper Meals at Trinity College, Idora nickel-and-dimes it just above the poverty line, fantasizes about being Naomi Campbell and serves as Assistant Deaconness at the Apostolical Holiness Church of Spiritualism in Christ. Especially at night, she fumes about her husband, "lost or buried somewhere in America, in Brooklyn" seeking employment. To make ends meet, Idora encourages her son to shoplift but then freaks when he embraces the thug life. As the novel commences, BJ is MIA, disappeared into the underworld of violence, larceny and drugs. Four days and many pages later, he's dead-no suspense here-and buried in his Reeboks as Idora mourns. That half-week of agonized anticipation is, basically, the book, a stream-of-consciousness tour of Idora's yearning memory for the islands, her ferocious musings about racism and want, her universal, maternal fears. At times psychedelically kaleidoscopic, at others merely confusing: Experimental plot-sabotage and disregard fornarrative chronology significantly undermine the momentum. Agent: Denise Bukowski/The Bukowski Agency
“A forceful book . . . at the height of his literary power, Clarke boldly challenges”
“More may stand as one of the crowning achievements of Clarke’s career”
“A beautifully written exploration of cultural conflicts and one woman’s struggle to find a place for herself emotionally.”
“[Clarke is] a magnificent story teller.”
"A forceful book . . . at the height of his literary power, Clarke boldly challenges"