Alexia Arthurs

Other Writing


Selected Short Stories

light-skinned girls and kelly rowlands . SHONDALAND

The first time I saw Cecilia, she was the only other black girl in our small group during freshman orientation. We were sitting in a circle while the junior leading our group was answering questions anyone had, and then we each had to say our name and where we were from. When it came to Cecilia’s turn, I had already memorized her name from the name tag, and carefully, without bringing attention to myself, took her in: flawless dark skin, silky relaxed hair that reached her breasts, tall, thin, beautiful. In that song "Power," when Kanye West raps, "Ma’fucka’, we rollin’ with some light-skinned girls and some Kelly Rowlands," he is talking about dark-skinned girls who look like Cecilia…read more

shirley from a small place . granta

Earlier that day, she’d been a mermaid. There’d been a merman. They’d kissed underwater, wrapping their fins together, their faces pinched in agony – the director had instructed, ‘Look like you’re fucking!’ Or at least this is what the finished product is to look like. Now, Shirley lies on the hotel bed in her bra and panties, flesh-toned – a color like peanut butter – watching her assistant, Heidi, and Yaheem, one of the most beautiful men she’d ever lay eyes on and her love interest from the music video – she’d handpicked him herself from a stack of headshots – each snort a line of coke…read more

ISLAND . Buzzfeed

We were on the beach when the man approached us, pulling a marijuana plant out of a faded black JanSport backpack. I started to laugh. It seemed like just the kind of ridiculous caricature of a scene from a film set in Jamaica — a bare-chested Rasta man pulling the entire plant out of his bag as though only twenty minutes ago he’d lifted it from where it hung drying in an unused closet in his house. But there we were, and it was really happening…read more


Tiffany can’t sleep when she hears that police found Jia Yi, the missing international student, dead in the trunk of her car, and that the man she’d been spending her time with had already flown back to China…read more


Pam and Curtis brought Stacy to Jamaica because they didn’t know what else to do with her. They believed that her old-time granny would straighten her out. In Brooklyn, Stacy cut her classes often, and she was caught giving a boy a blowjob in an empty classroom. They looked at the sweet little face on the body of a woman, and they were terrified of her and for her. It seemed that her breasts and ass were getting bigger every day…read more



ON RIHANNA . Granta 144

People tend to assume that because I was raised in Jamaica, I grew up with an intimate appreciation of dancehall and reggae music, but in church, we were told to only listen to music that encouraged decency and reaffirmed Biblical values. Still, I have early memories of Rihanna…read more

Some people really do believe “How To Love A Jamaican” is a self-help book . THE POOL

I have strong opinions on a few things, which include the kind of hair conditioner I like, not taking anyone’s last name and, apparently, what makes a good title for a book…read more


My debut, “How to Love a Jamaican” is a collection of stories that explores the anxieties of Jamaicans from all walks of life, as people like to say. A few of these characters self-identify as lesbians. For a long time, I thought I was writing two separate collections. The first collection was similar in tone to the finished product but felt safer, and the second was about gender and sexuality. The latter felt more personally pressing for what I was thinking about. Over time, with a recommendation from my agent, these two manuscripts became one — “How to Love a Jamaican”…read more


The first time I read Lucy by Jamaica Kincaid, during my early twenties, I respected it, but I don’t think I loved it, and by love I mean the way that people who read books adore books—as a testimony, aligning narratives with their world views, and the events of their lives…read more

Permanent Resident . Paris Review

I’m trying to remember when I first knew I was undocumented. We all were—my mother, my brother and sister, too. It showed itself in our lives. . In Jamaica, my siblings and I had idyllic childhoods, with backyards to run and play in, and mango trees for climbing, and there was a time, for a little while at least, when my father would take us to the beach on Sunday mornings…read more



Mermaids and Transgressive Sex . The Paris Review

“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…read more

It’s more complicated than the grass being greener . Hazzlit

The author of “How to Love a Jamaican” on love in its various forms, finding belonging and mediating identity between and beyond borders…read more


“Often writers talk about writing in an individualized way, our dreams and failures, but on the other end, it feels like a community project—it’s for the culture, for my culture. “How to Love a Jamaican” feels bigger than me. A surprising and beautiful realization. I’ve gotten messages from people who tell me that they were waiting on a book like mine”…read more