Sunday, April 11, 2010

Another Masterpiece Classic: Small Island by Andrea Levy

Happy Sunday morning. To all those bleary-eyed readathoners this morning, I hope you had a great time yesterday. I wish I could have joined in the 24-hour Readathon, but I ended up taking off to attend a wedding reception in Idaho yesterday evening. It was a four hour drive up, a couple of hours sitting at a reception, and then another four hours back. Long day, but nice to see family and old friends.

I wanted to share an upcoming film on Masterpiece Classics on PBS that is based off of an amazing book by Andrea Levy, Small Island. Before my blog became a review site, I had already read Small Island at the suggestion of a respected grad school professor. My professor knew about my interests in the immigrant culture and in ethnic literature and contacted me to say I had to read this great book. Based on the experience of Jamaican immigrants trying to survive in England during the 1940's and 50's, we follow the lives of different characters who either cling to the dreams they have of an ideal island home, or who attempt to assimilate and become the ultimate British citizen to share in the dream of Empire.
Small Island was an amazing, fascinating, gut-wrenching reading experience. I thoroughly enjoyed the novel, and found myself considering how immigrants work to assimilate, often being turned away by the dominant culture they've been taught to idealize. The novel is a great jumping off point for discussing how our global community is changing and becoming more diverse, and I can't recommend it enough. If you like authors such as Zadie Smith of Jamaica Kincaid, I can assure you that you'll appreciate Levy's work.

On April 18th & 25th, Masterpiece Classic on PBS will be airing the film adaptation of Levy's novel Small Island. Reviews of the film (such as this one from the Telegraph) give it praise but aren't completely sold on the way the story is developed. As a fan of the novel, I'm eager to check it out for myself, and hope you will too.

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  1. I have this book on my shelf - maybe I should read it before watching the PBS special! I listened to a BBC World Book Club podcast interview with the author talking about this book - it sounds great and I think I would really like it!

  2. Sounds like an interesting book, as well as an interesting adaptation. Too bad I cannot watch it, since I'm not in the US and thus do not have PBS. They seem to be airing a lot of great classic movie adaptations lately.

  3. I have owned this since it came out and STILL haven't read it! Must remedy that one of these days.