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Frying Plantain by Zalika Reid-Benta

Frying Plantain by Zalika Reid-Benta

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Short storiesKara 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 is a Toronto-based writer. Her debut short story collection FRYING PLANTAIN won the 23rd annual Danuta Gleed Literary Award and won the 2020 Kobo Emerging Writer Prize in literary fiction. It is currently longlisted for the 2020 Toronto Book Awards. FRYING PLANTAIN was shortlisted for the 2020 Trillium Book Award, longlisted for the 2019 Scotiabank Giller Prize and is currently nominated for the 2020 Forest of Reading Evergreen Award presented by the Ontario Library Association. Zalika is also the winner of the 2019 Byblacks People’s Choice Awards for Best Author.

Zalika was the June 2019 Writer in Residence for Open Book and she was listed in CBC’s “6 Canadian Writers to Watch in 2019”. She received an MFA in fiction from Columbia University, was the 2019 John Gardner Fiction Fellow at the Breadloaf Writers’ Conference and is an alumnus of the 2017 Banff Writers’ Studio. She is currently working on a young-adult fantasy novel drawing inspiration from Jamaican folklore.