A Million Aunties

Alecia McKenzie. Akashic, $15.95 trade paper (200p) ISBN 978-1-61775-892-8
Jamaican writer McKenzie’s thoroughly satisfying novel (after Sweetheart) explores a Jamaican American artist’s grief after losing his wife in a New York City terrorist attack. Chris, 44, leaves N.Y.C. for Port Segovia, Jamaica, after his wife, Lidia, is killed in a bombing of a public park. Chris’s friend and agent, Stephen, arranges for him to live with Miss Della Robinson, whom Stephen calls his “auntie,” though they aren’t related. In the company of Miss Della and her guests, who are drawn to the house by his paintings, he learns to laugh again. Chris’s trip is cut short, however, when Stephen calls to tell Chris his father is in the hospital for surgery, and Chris flies back to New York, where he faces the rift that widened between him and his father after his mother’s death from cancer six years earlier. Many characters and plot threads overlap, and McKenzie juggles them with aplomb, making Stephen the connector as aspects of Chris’s artist life, Jamaican heritage, and relationship with his in-laws increasingly run together. McKenzie’s prose enlivens the Jamaican scenery, describing hills that “rippled in shades of emerald” and “wind making the trees bend left and right like a spite,” and she seamlessly blends the Jamaican characters’ patois in first-person chapters alternating with Chris’s narrative. This bighearted narrative of love, loss, and family is handled with grace and beauty. (Nov.)
Reviewed on : 07/23/2020
Release date: 11/01/2020
Genre: Fiction
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