Jamaica Magazine

Book Review – River Woman

Book Description
As she washes her laundry in the Rio Minho, Kelithe is startled from her daydreams by women’s screams. It is not until she sees a small body in the shallow water that she realizes what has happened. Her young son has drowned. The Women of Standfast, Jamaica, whisper that she let Timothy die so that she could seize her chance to join her mother in America. Numb with grief, Kelithe lacks the strength to confront them. She can only wait for the funeral. And for her mother to come stand by her at last.

What really happened at the river? It is a question Kelithe’s mother cannot ask and an accusation Kelithe will not answer. And it lies at the heart of this shattering novel of promises kept and broken. In spare prose, Donna Hemans lays bare the human heart, exploring the unyielding bonds joining mother and child and the many facets of truth.

About the Author
Donna Hemans was born in Jamaica, and currently resides in Maryland. Her first novel River Woman was a finalist for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award in 2003 and co-winner of the 2003-4 Towson University Prize for Literature. She was named Best New Author for 2002 by Black Issues Book Review. Donna has received grants from the Maryland State Arts Council and the Prince George’s County Arts Council.

Donna’s short fiction has appeared or will appear in Caribbean Writer, Crab Orchard Review, MaComere: The Journal of Caribbean Women Writers and Scholars and THEMA. She is at work on her second novel.

Donna is the Spring 2004 Lannan Visiting Creative Writer in Residence at Georgetown University and is also an instructor at the Writer’s Center in Bethesda. She received her undergraduate degree in English and Media Studies from Fordham University and an MFA from American University.

“A graceful, absorbing first novel.” — The New York Times Book Review

“A remarkably assured and insightful debut offers a finely tuned, sympathetic portrait of a teenaged mother.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“A powerful look at guilt, betrayal, stunted ambition, and tortured maternal instincts.” — Booklist

“[A] potent accomplished debut.” — Publishers Weekly

“A lovely and lyrical debut, filled with insight and honesty. Donna Hemans is a splendid writer.” — Jewell Parker Rhodes, author of Voodoo Dreams and Douglass’ Women

“The power and the language of River Woman, and the irresistible call of the story, made me tingle with pleasure and thanksgiving in the presence of such a gifted new writer. River Woman is the work of a conjurer who casts a spell you don’t want to break and whose story you will never forget.” — Marita Golden, author of The Edge of Heaven

For further information about this exciting Jamaican novel, visit www.Amazon.com

About the author

Staff Writer