'An unforgettable debut' Paul Beatty, Booker Prize-winning author of The Sellout
'Incisive and sharp' Refinery29
Kara Davis is a girl caught in the middle - of her Canadian nationality and her desire to be a 'true' Jamaican, of her mother and grandmother's rages and life lessons, of having to avoid being thought of as too 'faas' or too 'quiet' or too 'bold' or too 'soft'.
Set in Little Jamaica, Toronto's Eglinton West neighbourhood, Kara moves from girlhood to the threshold of adulthood, from elementary school to high school graduation, in these twelve interconnected stories. We see her on a visit to Jamaica, startled by the sight of a severed pig's head in her great aunt's freezer; in junior high, the victim of a devastating prank by her closest friends; and as a teenager in and out of her grandmother's house, trying to cope with the ongoing battles between her unyielding grandparents.
A rich and unforgettable portrait of growing up between worlds, Frying Plantain shows how, in one charged moment, friendship and love can turn to enmity and hate, well-meaning protection can become control, and teasing play can turn to something much darker. In her brilliantly incisive debut, Zalika Reid-Benta artfully depicts the tensions between mothers and daughters, second-generation Canadians and first-generation cultural expectations, and Black identity and predominately white society.
'Zalika Reid-Benta announces herself as an enormous voice for the coming decade (and one that is desperately needed)' Gary Shteyngart, author of Super Sad True Love Story
In Reid-Benta's heartfelt debut collection of linked stories, a girl grows up in Toronto while coming to terms with her heritage. On a trip to Jamaica at age 10, Kara screams after finding a pig's severed head in her great-aunt's icebox. Back home, she brags to her classmates that she was the one who slaughtered it. Each story introduces a new uncomfortable situation while advancing along the timeline of Kara's life. In "Snow Day," Kara tries on a patois ("Yuh run yuh mouth too much") and receives taunts from her middle school peers for "Ja-fakin' it." In "Lovely," she lands her first job and loses her virginity at 17. In "Celebration," Kara and her mother, Eloise, get drunk together for the first time on the eve of her high school graduation, while in "Drunk," she and her friends party harder, leading to Kara throwing up in front of Eloise. Along the way, strong characters emerge, including Eloise, a sharp, overbearing woman who wants nothing more than to see her daughter succeed; and Kara's churchgoing grandmother, Nana, who shows her affection through cooking for the whole family. Reid-Benta makes good use of the episodic form, artfully blending Kara's wit and distance with startling vulnerability as she tracks Kara's thought processes and desires. This heralds a notable new voice.