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Pepperpot: Best New Stories from the Caribbean
Peepal Tree Press / Akashic Books
Reviewed by Jason Pettus
I have to confess, I would've never thought of picking up anthology of contemporary Caribbean writing on my own, if I hadn't been sent one by our pals at the always excellent Akashic Books; but now that I've read through said volume, Pepperpot: Best New Stories from the Caribbean, I must admit that it's so far been one of my favorite reads of the last few months, a surprisingly sophisticated and engrossing compilation that I tore through in just a couple of days. Not nearly the "singing natives in colorful dresses and their magical-realism adventures" anthology that Americans might expect from the subject (although there are a few stories like that in here), this is the entire point of a Caribbean anthology edited by actual Caribbeans, that it instead veers into tales of wealth and corporate espionage, quiet family dramas, and the other kinds of tropes that rarely get a chance to be showcased when it's white people writing about people of color in exotic lands, an illuminating slice of life that present a full range of experiences of what it must be like to live in this tropical and often troubled part of the world. In fact, about my only complaint is that the stories themselves hail from only six of the thirty nations and sovereign states that make up this region, and it would've been nice to see a wider range of representation; but I gotta say, what did get included is really great stuff, an eye-opening and entertaining read that is well worth your time. A big recommendation today for one and all.
Out of 10: 9.3