Print Matters: Frying Plantain by Zalika Reid-Benta

Kara 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.

Zalika Reid-Benta - Photo by Michele Comeau
Frying Plantain Cover and Zalika Reid-Benta – Photo by Michele Comeau

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.

Author

Zalika Reid-Benta is a born and bred Toronto writer, TV fanatic and cheeseburger enthusiast. In 2011 George Elliott Clarke recommended her as a “Writer to Watch”. Her work has appeared on the CBC website, in the TOK 7 anthology and in Apogee Journal. She is an alum of the 2017 Banff Writer’s Studio and received an MFA in fiction from Columbia University in 2014. Her work explores matters of intergenerational cycles, race, identity and culture through the lens of second-generation Caribbean Canadians. Her collection of linked short stories, Frying Plantain, is currently on offer and she is working on a fantasy YA novel.

 

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Joel Levy
About Joel Levy 1714 Articles
Editor-In-Chief at Toronto Guardian. Photographer and Writer for Toronto Guardian and Joel Levy Photography