cover image Gloria


Kerry Young. Bloomsbury, $15 trade paper (400p) ISBN 978-1-62040-075-3

The sophomore novel from Young (Pao) is the story of one Jamaican woman’s search for love and self-respect. Sixteen-year-old Gloria, while rescuing her younger sister, Marcia, from rape, kills the would-be attacker. Soon after, she leaves her small town, taking Marcia with her to Kingston. It is 1938, and all over the city, workers are striking and shutting down businesses, but Gloria manages to find work for herself and her sister. However, it quickly becomes apparent that as a poor dark-skinned woman, her life is still controlled by others, particularly predatory men. Yearning for independence, she befriends local prostitutes Sybil and Beryl, and, after losing her job as a shop clerk, decides to accept Sybil’s promise of a life where “yu not beholden to no man for the roof over yu head or have to be grateful to him for putting a ring pon yu finger.” In the brothel, Gloria meets and unexpectedly falls for Pao, the unofficial Chinatown enforcer and protagonist of Young’s previous novel. Set against the political turbulence of a country struggling toward independence, the novel’s treatment of autonomy and self-reliance is admirable yet stale and heavy-handed. Though written in phonetic Jamaican Patois, the prose lacks the vivacity to bring the characters or Jamaica itself to life. Agent: Susan Yearwood, Susan Yearwood Literary Agency. (July)