- Paperback: 170 pages
- Published: 5/1/07
- IBSN: 9781933354262
- Genre: Fiction
A dazzling coming-of-age novella, now an Essence Magazine best seller, by Jamaica’s top-selling writer.
“This is a jewel of a book. Channer’s language is dancing and juicy, his vision penetrating, and his hero is magnificent.”
—Booklist (starred review)
“Channer is a gifted storyteller.”
“A rewarding and tense novella . . . This novella signals the arrival of a talent matured.”
“Channer has become one of the most significant literary figures in the Caribbean.”
—Globe and Mail (Canada)
“The Girl with the Golden Shoes is a nearly perfect moral fable.”
—Russell Banks, from the Afterword
“Colin Channer continues to charm and surprise us. The Girl with the Golden Shoes takes us on a very moving and mesmerizing journey.”
—Edwidge Danticat, author of The Dew Breaker
“Colin Channer has joined the few writers who’ve created an entirely new and mythical landscape, the island of San Carlos, full of Caribbean legend and pathos, featuring hilarity and a wonderful Estrella Thompson, who’s not just looking for love but for respect and survival. Her journey is a memorable one.”
—Susan Straight, author of A Million Nightingales
“Estrella is what her name implies/means. She lights up the pages of this extraordinary novella as she negotiates her youth and the characters who populate her island. The culture of class. The culture of love. The culture of race. The culture of gender. All conspire to change her—and they do, and they do, somewhat; but she impacts them also as she continues her trek toward her own resurrection. And what a resurrection she is!”
—Sonia Sanchez, author of Shake Loose My Skin
“A wonderful, deceptively simple island odyssey evoking the will to survive, overcome, and succeed. A haunting book.”
—M.G. Vassanji, author of The Book of Secrets
“Colin Channer is a graceful, natural storyteller with a keen eye and sharp ear. He effortlessly evokes the sense of a place and a people in strong yet subtle strokes. And Estrella is a magnificent heroine, a woman for her time. This is a captivating tale.”
—Diana Abu-Jaber, author of Crescent
“The Girl in the Golden Shoes is lyrical, moving, beautifully constructed, and morally complex. In this novella, Colin Channer continues to expand the possibility of the Caribbean narrative and push the limits of his own oeuvre.”
—Chris Abani, author of The Virgin of Flames
“Estrella Thompson is robust, durable, and sparkling on Colin Channer’s page—a girl trying to invent herself beyond her body and beyond the old animist world of her family; the new gods are no less treacherous but she invents herself in paper, in reading, in radio, in the modern. Channer’s literary prose is muscular and fluid, surreal and fabulous.”
—Dionne Brand, author of What We All Long For
“Just start reading, and see if you can stop. Colin Channer’s prose is that hypnotic, vibrant, beautiful, startling, more alive than life itself.”
—Francisco Goldman, author of The Divine Husband
“The Girl with the Golden Shoes is literary magic of the best kind. Each new character, each new sentence is deceptively simple, imbued with the same astonishing possibility as the best folk tale. A sharp and relevant look at class and race, this book is one of the best I’ve read this year.”
—Joe Meno, author of Hairstyles of the Damned
Read Colin Channer’s contribution to “My Caribbean – 5 Vignettes,” which appeared in the November 10, 2013 issue of the New York Times.
The Girl with the Golden Shoes is a dazzling and picaresque novella of equal parts Gabriel García Márquez, Mark Twain, and Bob Marley. Set in 1942, on the imagined island of San Carlos, a cultural cocktail of Trinidad, Cuba, and Jamaica, it tells the story of Estrella Thompson, a 14-year-old who’s forced to fend for herself when she’s banished from the isolated fishing village where she’s lived all her life. Her crime? Wanting to read and write.
But Estrella is no victim. Neither is she an ordinary child. Prematurely ripe in body and mind, and contemptuous of the boundaries placed on her by gender, race, and social class, she takes the villagers’ rejection as a chance to change her life. She wants to go to Europe, the place where everything interesting seems to happen, including the war, which she’s heard about incessantly on rediffusion radio. But she has to get money for a ticket on a steamer, which means she has to get a job—which means she has to get a pair of shoes . . . and she’s never worn a pair in her life.
Estrella’s journey goes awry when she takes the wrong bus and ends up in a hostile town. From the one-armed madman who steals her belongings, to the lonely black truck driver who forces her to listen to his lecture on politics and race, to the Spanish Creole seducer who rides into her life on horseback, to the white soldiers who attempt to break her spirit—the characters that come into Estrella’s life are as changed by her as she is by them.
The Girl with the Golden Shoes is a deftly-written story that swims against the tide of cynicism that has come to dominate the best American fiction. Its propulsive plot is driven by a heroine who’s too naive to back down and too smart to swap hope for disillusion as a central belief.
Also check out So Much Things to Say, co-edited by Colin Channer.
COLIN CHANNER was born in Jamaica to a pharmacist and cop. Junot Díaz calls him “one of the Caribbean Diaspora’s finest writers.” His poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Harvard Review, The Common, and Renaissance Noire, among other places. Channer has served as Newhouse Professor in Creative Writing at Wellesley College and Fannie Hurst Writer in Residence at Brandeis University. His many books of prose include the novella The Girl with the Golden Shoes, “a very moving and mesmerizing journey” in the words of Edwidge Danticat. He won the Silver Musgrave Medal in Literature in 2010 and currently lives in New England. Providential is his first poetry book.