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Berry James : Thief in the Village


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About the Author

James Berry was born and grew up in Jamaica. He is a distinguished writer and poet. In 1982 he won the National Poetry Society's Annual Prize for Fantasy of an African Boy, and in 1987. A Thief in the Village was the Grand Prix winner of the Smarties Prize. He lives both in Jamaica and in Sussex.


"The phrases in these stories, all set in Jamaica, are musical in print, even before they are read aloud. ``I know total-total that if I had my own bike, the Wheels-and-Brake Boys wouldn't treat me like that, '' Becky tells readers in ``Becky and the Wheels-and-Brake-Boys, '' and, with those words, her determination is established. By the end of the tale, she gets her wish and rides alongside the boys who had seemed to her fearless. ``Usually I think I live in the poorest back-o'-wall bush place, '' begins the narrator of ``All Other Days Run into Sunday, '' a boy who knows that the mischief of the other days of the week always tries to creep into Sunday's calm specialness. In the title story, an honest man is maligned in such a way that the villagers may never again be so sure of themselves. Berry's prose is liquid and cool; in ``Fanso and Granny-Flo'' and elsewhere his descriptions are so original that the language is rendered meaningful and new: ``Fanso's comings and goings and concerns were so well woven in with his granny's, it was hard to tell he had a big secret worry.'' How better to express the phase when the young adult begins to pull away from childhood? The collection is epiphanic; each story wraps itself around ordinary incidents and transforms them into lore."--Publishers Weekly

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