cover image The Girl with the Golden Shoes

The Girl with the Golden Shoes

Colin Channer, . . Akashic, $12.95 (181pp) ISBN 978-1-933354-26-2

A picaresque set on the fictional Caribbean island of San Carlos in 1942, Channer's rewarding and tense novella follows the journey of fishing village outcast Estrella Thompson, a precocious 14-year-old with a woman's body who seeks shoes, employment and acceptance in the capital city of Seville after being excommunicated from her village. Along the way, she meets sundry men, some of whom offer to help her and almost none of whom ought to be trusted. Estrella comes of age practically by the hour, learning what to expect of others, what to value in herself and how to make her own demands. Channer writes with an intriguing, lyrical blend of English and Caribbean patois and uses simple language and crisp imagery (a woman's face is "as plain and inexpressive as an egg"; beach sand is "so white that on the coolest days you had to squint to see it"). While Channer's earlier work engaged the psyche of Caribbean diaspora in less subtle narratives (Waiting in Vain ; Satisfy My Soul ), this novella—a moral fable, Russell Banks notes in his afterword—signals the arrival of a talent matured. (May)