Black Immigrant Daily News
From being chosen as the February 2021 Good Morning America (GMA) Book Club pick to being featured in Essence magazine plus book signings and publishing different variations including a paperback version, Barbadian author Cherie Jones is now one of Loop‘s Author of the Year contenders.
A lot happened for her in 2021, including also that her debut novel ‘How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House’ was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction in the UK. But this year, Jones is racking up more accolades too. She was selected to participate in the 2022 International Writing Programme (IWP) Fall Residency, hosted by the University of Iowa.
However, at home, her talent has been recognised too, at least twice – at the start of the year and at the end. In January, Jones led the National Cultural Foundation (NCF) Writers’ Clinic to share ‘Tips on Getting A Literary Agent’, and now, in December, she’s vying for a Loop accolade.
Her novel now has almost 4,000 global ratings on Amazon and has 4.1 stars out of 5. It’s a Best-seller on Amazon and a Discover Pick on Barnes & Noble. On Barnes & Noble it has a 4.4 rating.
These women are doing the best that they can based on what they know
Jones’ first novel won her a great video interview and review from GMA reporter Janai Norman. Norman, who got married in Barbados, said that the island is “quite near and dear to my heart”. She said the debut book “explores race and class, murder and inconsolable grief all against the backdrop of wealthy British tourists and working class Bajans…
“Cherie Jones is taking readers on a journey to the other side of a seemingly peaceful paradise and ‘How the one-armed sister sweeps her House’.”
At certain points of the novel I actually had to put it down
Interviewing Jones, Norman said, “We know when many tourists traveled to islands like Barbados, they head straight to their beautiful vacation destination, but in this novel, you’re shifting the perspective, peeling back the layers of what the locals their experience.”
Jones said that her hope, in this book which came to her on a bus ride in the UK, was to highlight some dark realities and give help to some who may be living in silence.
“I think that it’s important as a Barbadian to acknowledge that we are that beautiful picture perfect paradise that everybody sees on the postcards and for some of these characters, yes, there is the beautiful beach but there also be problems that people in any other country in the world would experience.”
By profession, Jones is a practicing attorney in Barbados and she said that those skills helped with her writing. “One of those skills for me is the ability to ask good questions. And I like to say that the characters who tend to be very willing to talk to me don’t always tell the whole truth.”
Norman said the novel dives into the complex daily lives of a family of women, their associates and lovers as they navigate the harsh reality of abusive relationships with domestic violence and sexual assaults.
She said that Jones was a victim in the past and told her that by way of the writing process and through her characters it was therapeutic and cathartic for herself as well.
Writing out a notebook from front to back in pen, she put down on paper what is now a Best-seller book, but because of the topics covered, she said it was not an easy task.
“At certain points of the novel I actually had to put it down. But it was something that was also almost a compulsion like I have to finish it…
“These women are doing the best that they can based on what they know based on what they’ve experienced. To me the connection between this sense of disempowerment and oppression is very much like losing a voice and I thought that that was a very good way creatively to portray the trauma that some of these women face. I do hope that in reading the story, perhaps there’s at least one person who reads it, finds some value.”
Norman asked the poignant question, ‘What would you say to someone who is maybe struggling [with abuse]?’
Jones without hesitation said, “Share! Share the experience, share the trauma, share the difficulty, because it’s only in speaking up and out, that transformation is possible.”