Emboldened by Reggae, Jamaican Writers Bust Out

The story comes at you with hurricane force and an irresistible title, "How to Beat a Child in the Right and Proper Way." It is the creation of the Jamaican writer Colin Channer, who is also the editor of "Iron Balloons," an anthology of a new kind of Jamaican writing published by Akashic Books in May. On a recent Saturday, Mr. Channer read a section of the story at Hue-Man Bookstore & Cafe in Harlem.
"The Right and Proper Way" is a big breath of a piece, 54 pages long, and something of a tour de force, spoken in various registers of Jamaican English by Ciselyn, a 68-year-old Jamaican woman who works at Macy's and is giving a talk in a speech class she is taking.
One day in Jamaica in 1972, Ciselyn relates, she went to pick up her daughter, Karen, from school and Karen wasn't there. When Karen finally appeared, she was very rude.
At Hue-Man, Mr. Channer read Ciselyn's child-rearing philosophy as told to her speech class: "Sink them down again below the grass, and stand up over them like you have a machete in your hand. If they push up they head again before they time, don't hesitate. Take one swing and chop it off." "The Right and Proper Way" reaches a terrible and inevitable conclusion. "I paint her body red," Ciselyn cries. "I look at her and say, 'You think you is a woman in this place?' Whap. 'You think you is woman, eh?' Spa-DIE. 'What you have to hide?' Whap" And so on. And on.DINITIA SMITH


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