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The Pain Tree

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  75 ratings  ·  16 reviews
Olive Senior’s new collection of stories, The Pain Tree, is wide-ranging in scope, time period, theme, locale, and voice.Like her earlier stories, Jamaica is the setting but the range of characters presented are universally recognizable as people in crisis or on the cusp of transformation.

Collected here are revenge stories (“The Goodness of my Heart”), a bargain with the D
Paperback, 194 pages
Published September 30th 2015 by Cormorant Books
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I have been sleeping on Oliver Senior and I am deeply ashamed.

There is only one way to describe Pain Tree... "deeply moving" . I cannot get over what an amazing Writer Olive Senior is. It takes an excellent writer to convey a range of emotions out of a reader from just 4-10 pages and every single story in this book moved me. I cannot pick one specific story because every single one could stand on it's own.

I wish I had words to describe how great this book is. I cannot shut up about Oliver Sen
Alison (alibooksit)
Feb 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
‘“Let us say, Lorraine, I feel a heavy burden, too heavy for me to bear, if I give the nail to the tree and ask it to take my burden from me, is so it go. Then I get relief.”’
I am not a usual reader of short stories - in fact, I don’t think I’ve read a full short story collection ever!? I only found this book (and author) after both came highly recommended by a fellow bookstagrammer and I am deeply pleased to say I will be searching high and low for more of Olive Senior’s work. She is brilliant
Mar 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Later, YaYa came into the room with a small calabash full of a dark and viscous liquid. By now he had ceased to ask about anything she gave him and he swallowed it...

"It take a long time to make. Is not something to drink any and every day. We feel the time is ripe."

"For what?"

"It will give you spirit. Whatever you are to be, will be."

In the last story there is a guava, golden and perfect, at the top of a tree farther on in the hills. The character must tread towards it, as stone and dirt roll d
Shivanee Ramlochan
Again, Olive Senior shows why she's the doyenne of the literary stage -- she pulls wires, shifts props, plants suggestion, primes actors and orchestrates the whole with a kind of unassuming deftness and quiet determination you'd want by your side in a brawl or a bookshop alike.

Full review forthcoming in the Trinidad Guardian's Sunday Arts Section.
Portia S
Dec 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: caribbean
I began reading this a while back and I have just finished it, and it feels like a dream/ wake journey.

I never have anything richly profound or highfalutin to say about anything, but I can say that these stories are just so endemically Caribbean.

I am part of the shelling-peas oral tradition, where generations of Caribbean mothers and daughters have sat in kitchens and told stories. And it is not only the stories of our families, but of people. Different classes, backgrounds, whole family scand
Makeda / ColourLit
The stories in ‘The Pain Tree’ are short but succinct (10 stories across 180 pages). Senior is deft at writing full and rich characters with sparse prose. She constructs believable scenes, complete with unexpected twists. Her range is impressive; I particularly enjoyed the stories that spoke to the issue of respectability politics and class inequalities; some characters used their class to hide deviant personalities, others acted ‘respectable’ in order to move up the class hierarchy.

My favourite
Apphia Barton
May 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I consider the book I'm reading my "company". The Pain Tree was really good company. Each story is distinct and equally enthralling. From the first short story "the Pain Tree" to the ending "Flight". No single theme pervaded this collection - I can't pin it down as one having a single prominent/recurring theme throughout. I did however, feel a progression through time. I particularly loved BOXED IN - written without any bias, unassuming; not that I condone Mr Everett's actions etc. but I admire ...more
Debbie Jacob
May 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Olive Senior's collection of short stories shine for their ability to capture the boundaries between rich and poor; rural and urban in Jamaica. As a whole, they have a cohesiveness that reminds me of what RK Narayan accomplished in his novels about Malgudi. She is one of the best short story writers in the world. ...more
Aug 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In The Pain Tree, Olive Senior writes so masterfully, that her readers have no choice but to become a part of each story, becoming emotionally engaged in the literal tapestry she weaves.

Whether it's the titular story where the significance of the pain tree is imparted upon privileged Lorraine; Silent where Joel witnesses the death of his father and the callousness of the police force, but also the strength of his mother; Boxed In where Mr. Everett becomes quite frightened at the advent of an inv
Bill Brydon
Oct 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: caribbean
The eloquent portrayal of grief in this excerpt calls to mind a sculpture noted below.
"She stopped when she reached the cedar tree, and I watched as she stood for a good while with her head bent close to the tree and her lips moving as if she were praying. Then she pounded the trunk of the tree with the stone, threw the stone down, and strode off without looking back. When I went and examined the tree, I saw that she had hammered in a nail. I was even more astonished to notice there were many n
Feb 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Full review:

There is often a lot of attention given to young, talented authors who write a bestseller or award-winner. We love to talk about them and how young and how gifted they are. But there is something to be gained from a writer with years of experience and practice under her belt, and that is epitomized in Senior. Her writing is thoughtful, each line measured carefully to carry across the experiences of the young, old, wealthy, poor, and all types
Feb 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Oooh! Olive Senior does not disappoint! Loved this collection, and will for sure think of these stories for a long time. Absolutely has staying power. Highly recommend.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Chantel DaCosta
10 short stories and I loved the last three.
Hal Carim
Aug 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
A wonderful collection of short stories of Jamaican lives and mores across all social classes written with empathy and brilliance illuminating the universality of the Human Condition
LauraJan Obermuller
Mar 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Beautiful short stories!
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Olive Senior was born and brought up in Jamaica in 1941 and educated in Jamaica and Canada. She is a graduate of Montego Bay High School and Carleton University, Ottawa.

She is one of Canada's most internationally recognized and acclaimed writers having left Jamaica in 1989, spending some years in Europe and since 1993 being based in Toronto.

Among her many awards and honours she has won the Commo

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