Friday, June 25, 2010

Opening Sentence of the Day: Small Island

"I thought I'd been to Africa."

-- from the Prologue to Small Island by Andrea Levy.

I've been hearing very good things about this book and am excited to finally start reading it. It is about Jamaican immigrants to Britain after WWII.

Oddly, the inside cover of my edition describes this as "an encapsulation of the most American of experiences: the immigrant's life." "American"? Oh well, the author didn't write the book jacket, so I'll have to let go of that one and not let it color my reaction to the book.

This book won the Orange Prize and the Costa Book of the Year. It is my book club's upcoming book and counts as one of the books I am reading for the Book Awards challenge. So I'll get to scratch this off several lists when I finish it -- how satisfying.


Book Beginnings on Fridays is a Friday fun "opening sentence" event hosted by Becky at Page Turners. Post the opening sentence of the book(s) you started this week and see what other books people have going.


  1. oh, what a terrible faux pas! It can actually sometimes be hard to change the British flap copy to be pertinent to the US. I once really struggled with how to describe a protagonist who obviously couldn't be "African-American" becuase he was British. "African-British" sounded ridiculous, "black" sounds old-fashioned and out of touch, "person of color" sounds pretentious. Argh!

  2. this is something I know nothing about, and I'm impressed it won the Orange Prize. *adding to the wishlist* :-)

  3. I love it, sounds mysterious. You always read such great books. I am determined to read you review of this one! I like Orange Prize winners

  4. This title sounds familiar -- did Masterpiece do a production of this story? And I definitely understand the satisfaction that comes with crossing things off a list!

  5. This is on my shelf waiting to be read - can't wait to read your review!

    I listened to an interview with the author by BBC's World Book Club on podcast and the book sounds fascinating - she offers great insight into why she wrote it, her thoughts on the characters, etc. She also reads from the book in a Jamaican accent - the characters came alive! Would definitely recommend the podcast if you listen to them at all.

  6. Carin -- Your story made me laugh!

    Marie -- I know nothing about immigrants to Britain (the typical "American" experience, like it said on the jacket :) ), so I am looking forward to it.

    Becky -- I'm working on the Orange Prize winners, but not very quickly. I am happy that this one finally caught my attention.

    Charley -- Yes, there is a Masterpiece Theater production. I haven't seen it, but many of the amazon book covers show a scene from it. I'll probably watch it after I finish the book.

    Booksnyc -- Thanks for the podcast tip! I don't usually listen to them, but I can find it and try. I do like author interviews and always listen to them when they are at the end of an audio book.

  7. I really enjoyed this one and will be interested to see how you like it. I remember it being quite funny at places, and then also very moving later on.


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