Doan Trouble de Fish
Doan Trouble de Fish is a collection of short stories examining the way of live for different Jamaicans in their home country and in America. The collection opens from the first-person perspective of a teenage boy struggling to understand his place amongst his group of friends in "Sat'day" and, in "'Ooman Conversation," ends with an omniscient look into the lives of a group of adult women struggling to maintain agency against the pressures of poverty. In between, we hear a boy recounting a dramatic beating from his mother, witness an encounter between a young girl and a "duppy" in the countryside, see the transformation of a man dressing in his wife's clothes to feel powerful, and are treated to guidelines on being a closeted homosexual in Jamaica. The diverse characters and points-of-view are meant to offer a tableau of what it's like to inhabit the island or to be a product of its environment.
Jamaica is the unspoken character of Doan Trouble de Fish. But the more popular depictions of an island paradise are abjured in favor of urban squalor and uncompromising heat. The Jamaican environment is often harsh to the collection's characters, particularly to its women and non-masculine men. A concept underlying many of these stories is the liability of identity. A central theme to the collection is the maintenance of personal integrity in the face of an environment unwelcome to one's identity. Some characters find a way to forge ahead. Some are still trying to figure it out.