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Abeng (Clare Savage #1)

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  598 Ratings  ·  43 Reviews
An alternate cover edition for this ISBN can be found here.

Ever since Abeng was first published in 1984, Michelle Cliff has steadily become a literary force. Her novels evoke both the clearly delineated hierarchies of colonial Jamaica and the subtleties of present-day island life. Nowhere is her power felt more than in Clare Savage, her Jamaican heroine, who appeared, alre
Paperback, 176 pages
Published May 1st 2008 by Plume Books (first published 1984)
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On the surface, this is a novella about a twelve year old light-skinned Jamaican girl, Clare Savage, who stays with her grandmother during the holidays and ponders a lot, trying to understand her world and her self. There are major obstacles to this effort; Clare is given versions of Jamaican and personal history crafted by colonising forces. The author voice continually characterises Jamaica as an island trying to forget its past. Michelle Cliff interferes in this process by intercutting suppre ...more
Missy J

Michelle Cliff is the next Jamaican author that I'm reading during my Jamaican literary journey. I've spotted the book cover "Abeng" long before I started this challenge and was always intrigued what it meant in Jamaican patois (in Indonesian "abang" means "older brother"). Compared to most of the Jamaican books that I read this year (Marlon James, Kei Miller, Lorna Goodison, Margaret Cezaire-Thompson...), this book is kind of "old school" in that it was published in the 80s.

"Abeng" is a com
Dec 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
Abeng begins "The Island rose and sank. Twice." And within the first pages the reader is introduced to the Savage family with two daughters, the two church services they attend weekly, Jamaica's two rulers - a white queen and a white governor, two moneys - British and Jamaican, two kinds of schools, two beaches - one with sharks which the family abandons and one sheltered.

And metaphorically, the island's two kinds of mangoes begin the book. The St. Julienne which "hung from a grafted branch of
James F
Michelle Cliff is best known for her first novel, No Telephone to Heaven, which is one of the next books on my reading list, for the Goodreads group which is reading Jamaican literature this year. Abeng is a prequel to that novel, taking the protagonist, Clare Savage, a light-skinned, "middle-class" Jamaican girl, back to her adolescence at twelve years old. I will admit that it is an easy and enjoyable read, with mostly good likeable characters and good themes, as Clare discovers the discrimina ...more
Sep 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Abeng by Michelle Cliff, is the story of Clare Savage, a 12-year-old Jamaican girl: a story of coming of age, of trying to make sense of the confusion that is being 12, that comes from being light-skinned and privileged in a color-sensitive world, of being female in a world that locks "ladies" in a room and gives them little to do, of sex and sexuality in a world with negative messages about sexuality (especially for light-skinned women). It's a book about relationships and the range of barriers ...more
Aug 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
An amazing novel which is an amalgam of Kincaid's

"A Small Place" and Lamming's " In the Castle of My Skin."

A post-colonial novel which gives us the history of Jamaica and questions the validity of history. If you want to know about slavery,politics, history, economy, etc then this is The Book

Cliff goes back in time and endeavors to recreate a history. She succeeds in recreating a visual history and this shows her skill of manipulating the language for her own purpose.I recommend everyone to re
Ricky Stein
Mar 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was pleasantly surprised by this book. It takes on some serious issues - racism, classism, homophobia, gender inequality - while painting a portrait of Jamaican life in the late 1950s and including a lot of information about the history of the island. I also like the way the narration shifts from one generation to another, further emphasizing the connection between the present and the past. An overlooked and underrated read with a subtle tone but a powerful message.
Apr 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
It's been a while since I've read this, but Clare Savage is one of the most interesting characters I've ever discovered. I read Abeng and No Telephone To Heaven at about the same time, and that's pretty much when I decided I was pretty much wasting my time taking writing classes.
Katie (The Book Sphere)
This is more of a 3.5 star book. I had to read this one for my Post Colonialism course. A majority of it I found to be a bit disjointed and hard to follow. But the parts I followed and especially the last half of the book were solid and told quite a story.
Itala T.
Feb 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Good beginning work by Michelle Cliff, part of the early 70s stream of feminist writers, with awareness of the marginality of immigrants, women, children and knowledgeable about history of slavery and roots of rebellion, told with a lyrical pitch.
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Michelle Cliff (born 2 November 1946) is a Jamaican-American author whose notable works include No Telephone to Heaven, Abeng and Free Enterprise.

Cliff also has written short stories, prose poems and works of literary criticism. Her works explore the various, complex identity problems that stem from post-colonialism, as well as the difficulty of establishing an authentic, individual identity despi
More about Michelle Cliff...

Other Books in the Series

Clare Savage (2 books)
  • No Telephone to Heaven