The Paris Review

Mermaids and Transgressive Sex: An Interview with Alexia Arthurs

How to Love a Jamaican, Alexia Arthurs’s first book, is a short-story collection that delves into the lives of people who have Jamaica in common. Whether it’s the place they currently live, the place they left, or the place their parents are from, Jamaica always forms some notion of home. And How to Love a Jamaican explores, in part, what it means to make and remake that conception of home. In this book, there’s no single way to be Jamaican—the definition of the word itself expands to encompass each person who claims it. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Arthurs has been published in the Virginia Quarterly Review and Granta, among other publications. A story from the collection, “Bad Behavior,” first appeared in the Summer 2016 issue of The Paris Review and was awarded the 2017 Plimpton Prize. Arthurs and I spoke on the phone two days after the collection was published, about invisibility, the idea of “a better life,” mermaids, and more.  

INTERVIEWER

When you were

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

Related Interests

More from The Paris Review

The Paris Review10 min read
Queerness, Cyborgs, and Cephalopods: An Interview with Franny Choi
Franny Choi isn’t done thinking about cyborgs. When we met two weeks before the release of her latest collection Soft Science, she told me she was still discovering AI ideas she wished she could have addressed in her poems. Reckoning with the mytholo
The Paris Review4 min read
The Art of Doodling
“Everyone is a collector in one way or another,” the English-teacher-turned-art-dealer David Schulson would tell his children. “Everyone has the impulse to collect.” What Schulson didn’t say is that the impulse to collect often contains within it ano
The Paris Review9 min read
What Our Contributors Are Reading This Spring
Paul Beatty. Photo: Hannah Assouline. No American novelist riffs like Paul Beatty. His superlative novel Slumberland established his comic mastery years before he won the Man Booker Prize in 2016. Set in Berlin just before (and after) the fall of the