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Buxton Spice

3.27  ·  Rating details ·  182 ratings  ·  22 reviews
Back in print: an extraordinary first novel by'a writer to watch and to enjoy.'*

Told in the voice of a girl as she moves from childhood into adolescence, Buxton Spice is the story the town of Tamarind Grove: its eccentric families, its sweeping joys, and its sudden tragedies. The novel brings to life 1970s Guyana-a world at a cultural and political crossroads-and perfectly
Paperback, 176 pages
Published June 15th 2004 by Beacon Press (first published January 1st 1998)
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Average rating 3.27  · 
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 ·  182 ratings  ·  22 reviews

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H.A. Leuschel
Jul 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first book I've read by an author from Guyana. What made this book so special was the voice of the young narrator Lula, a teenage girl who tries to make sense of the world she lives in, her emergent sexuality and the confusing politics that invade and divide the people in her village. But most of all, I enjoyed her voice describing the lush surroundings and her connection with nature:

'I told him bout what I was reading - how people can communicate with each other without talking. But
Jan 20, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved the colorful introduction to a new place for me, but I actually had trouble understanding it; not the place, culture, language, though that too, but the whole concept of the adolescent fascination with bodies and sex. For me, I just didn’t experience it. I could have cared less. Nudity was no big deal, though not flaunted, in my childhood home, and sex was something to be wary of unless you were ready and able to care for a child (something I’ve never felt ready for). So I ignored both s ...more
Jul 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book was a recommended read that has been sitting in my 'to be read' pile for a while. I loved this book, from the first chapter I was held and I could have finished it in one sitting. Caribbean literature written from the Caribbean diaspora, you can always feel this disconnect between the writer and the writing as a Caribbean resident currently residing in the Caribbean. But you do not feel this disconnect with Oonya, 'Buxton Spice' felt fresh like it was written just a couple months ago. ...more
Oct 18, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2015
Three things about this book:
First, why are Caribbean writers still doing the 'impressions of childhood' thing? This was thoroughly done in the 1950s by the pioneers of Caribbean writing - Edgar Mittelholzer, VS Naipaul, Michael Anthony, George Lamming, Sam Selvon, etc.
Second, Oonya Kempadoo has written a very slight work, short on plot, and also short on words. Is it a brief memoir of her childhood in Guyana? Or is it a novel? I suspect the former.
Third, the level of violence, especially sexua
Sue Kozlowski
I enjoyed reading this novel and I learned a great deal about Guyana - mostly due to my own researching. The story is told through the eyes of a young girl growing up in Guyana in the 1970's. It is more a story of observations, rather than a book with an actual plot.

It is written in Lula's words, which sometimes makes it difficult to understand what she is referring to. Guyana is one of the few countries in Africa in which English is the main language. Yes, Guyana is where Jim Jones convinced hi
2017 Reading Challenge - A book about a difficult topic

Buxton Spice is ultimately a coming of age novel about a young girl in Guyana in the community of Tamarind Grove during the dictatorial rule of Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham. Lula, the main character, is the daughter of intellectuals and this in some ways sets her apart from her peers. However, ultimately, she experiences the same growing pains they do and is witness to the political repression and sexual violence within her community, the s
A fairly evocative look back to the author's childhood in Guyana. The writing is poetic, descriptive, as she recalls the place, the people and the political climate for a girl on the brink of adulthood. And watching over all the events stands the Buxton Spice mango tree in the garden.Not massively memorable but quite well written.
Simon Bate
Set in the fictional Guyanese town of Tamarind Grove this episodic novel, largely written in a sometimes difficult to decipher Caribbean patois, is the story of Lula and her friends arriving at adolescence and finding the dangers of politics ready to intrude.
Oct 11, 2020 rated it liked it
You can see my review on my book blog, warning: it has some spoilers! https://anemptysackcannotstand.wordpr... ...more
2,5 sterren.
Een inkijkje in de leefwereld van Lula. Hoe ze praat met de Buxton Spice mangoboom vond ik mooi, maar verder was het weinig vernieuwend of enerverend.
Leslie Ann
Aug 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, young-adult
This coming-of-age story for my ATW Reading Challenge (Guyana) is disjointed, but the prose is lyrical in places.
Oct 15, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I chose Buxton Spice for the Read Harder Challenge 2017 in the category of a book set in South America written by a South American author. While told from the point of view of Lulu, a pre-teen girl growing up in Guyana in 1970, her use of her native dialect made the narrative very challenging and oftentimes difficult to read. Additionally, I was unfamiliar with the politics of Guyana in 1970, although there is some effort to explain some of that in Lulu’s narrative. Ultimately, I felt that the b ...more
Claire Dawn
May 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
Kempadoo does a good job of illustrating 70's Guyana from the point of view of a girl on the cusp of adulthood. She shows us the ridiculous political norms, the enmity between the Blacks and non-Blacks, and the super-charged sexuality of the Caribbean. The dialect is also well written and will call to mind life in the Caribbean for anyone who's ever lived there, but may be difficult to decipher for those who haven't.
Dannuel Delizo
I liked how Oonya pictured Guyana way back in 1970's. It is an evocative novel. And it touched my soul and made me contemplate how fortunate I am to be born in the 1990's. In this novel, so many happenings would make you want to scream. Young gals using battery as dildo. Girls pretending to be husbands and wives. T'eo fucking the pigs with his "pink wet worm". Uncle Joe showing off his donkey lolo to the little girls. Idk. Too much happened. Tragic...tragic book.
Hazel Manuel
Aug 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Ooyna Kempadoo's 'Buxton Spice' is a fascinating novel. The story, which is of a young girl growing up in Guyana, is brave, raw and honest. Issues of racial tensions, sexual awaking, violence in different forms are not shied away from and while perhaps provocative, the book is never self conscious. The voice is strong and authentic and if at times a little challenging, adds so much to the sense of place. A captivating read.
Apr 05, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sassy, tart, frightening. Superbly written. I heard the voices, felt the heat, ached from the tragedy born out of the struggles of poverty, race, faith....all those same old stories, played out starkly in one fleeting time.
Mar 10, 2013 rated it it was ok
There were some really lovely descriptions of the trees and plants and I was impressed by how she described the narrator's experience of going through puberty. However, there was a disturbing amount of sexual violence against women and violence in general that really turned me off of this book.
Daniel Simmons
May 30, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A virtually unreadable snooze-a-thon.
Sep 06, 2010 rated it liked it
This book is a coming of age story. Many cultural beliefs that I think are universal for people of color.
Aug 04, 2013 rated it liked it
Read for class. Not bad.
Vonetta N Julien
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Oct 05, 2017
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Sep 14, 2010
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Dec 22, 2010
rated it it was ok
Oct 20, 2015
Nicole Inácio
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Sep 22, 2013
rated it it was ok
Nov 07, 2011
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Jan 05, 2014
Paulah Heuschkel
rated it it was amazing
Jun 29, 2016
Lisa  K
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Apr 13, 2011
Carol Borrell
rated it did not like it
Jun 26, 2007
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Oonya Kempadoo is a writer who was born in Sussex, England in 1966 of Guyanese parents. She was brought up in Guyana and has since lived in Europe and various islands in the Caribbean.

Her first novel, Buxton Spice, was published to great acclaim in 1998, and was nominated for the 2000 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Her second book, Tide Running (Picador, 2001), set in Plymouth, Tobago,

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