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Maisy Card Books In Order

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These Ghosts Are Family (2020) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Maisy Card is a public librarian and author from New York that is best known for her debut novel “These Ghosts Are Family.” Her non-fiction has been published in Ampersand Review, Lenny Letter, Liars’ League NYC, AGNI and Sycamore Review. Maisy was born in the small town of St. Catherine in Jamaica but her parents moved to the US when she was little. She grew up in Queens in New York where there were a lot of Jamaican immigrants and their stories influenced some of her writing. She graduated from Wesleyan University with a bachelor’s in American Studies and English and then went to Rutgers University for her MLIS.

Card has said that she read the novel, “Julie of the Wolves,” as a fourth-grader and from then on she was hooked into reading and storytelling. Before that, she had been reading novels but most of these were about white suburban children in Oregon or the UK. It was the first time she had ever read of nonwhite characters, let alone a non-white girl. In a recent interview, she acknowledged that there are many things the author of the novel got wrong about black culture but she was very much taken and struck by the violence meted out on the lead. Maisy Card had witnessed violence against women growing up and while it was never explicit, she believes that in her society there was an implicit warning against ever acknowledging or talking about it. As such, Julie’s experiences felt real to her in a way no other character ever had though she also felt a sense of escapism through the character. It was the first time she desired to live or be a character in a novel. This novel thus inspired some of the themes in her debut novel “These Ghosts Are Family.”

Maisy Card’s “These Ghosts Are Family” has the feel of several stories combined into one. Nonetheless, the voices in the novel are distinct and span a period in history from colonial Jamaica through the decades right down to modern-day New York. The novel deals with unwieldy yet critical themes that weave through history yet remain just as relevant through the times. Card writes of the trauma, racism, addiction, misogyny, and abuse in her society. What is even better is that Maisy writes with exceptional empathy and poise. She manages the feat by using a family full of flawed characters which is what makes them so real such that the overarching themes seem to flow so effortlessly alongside them.

“These Ghosts Are Family” by Maisy Card is an assured and profound debut exploring a family’s painful past and uncovering Jamaican colonial history. It spans eight generations of the Paisley family over two hundred years beginning with Stanford Solomon. He is introduced as a Jamaican immigrant to the US that had faked his death about three decades past. He had cast off his identity of Abel Paisley and taken that of his best friend before becoming estranged from his family. Nearly four decades after his estrangement, he contacts Irene his thirty-seven-year-old daughter. She is a health aide and is living in NYC and she is shocked by the confession from the father she never knew. She tells him that her mother had spent years in anguish, wondering what had happened to him. The story traces the roots of the Paisley family in Jamaica under the British which had been full of pain and misery. The novel is full of figurative and literal ghosts and includes a heart-wrenching description of the Christmas Rebellion of 1831. The aftereffects of the novel reveal that the Paisleys have been rewriting their history for centuries. Writing in a fluid blend of erudite descriptions and Jamaican patois, the author provides a kaleidoscope of a resilient even if troubled family going back through the centuries.

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