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BOOKS
Discerner of Hearts Discerner of Hearts Discerner of Hearts
Fiction
9780771080548
Publisher: McClelland & Stewart, 1995, 2002

ZigZag, translated into French by Christine Raguet, Geneva: 2010 www.editionszoe.ch

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The nine vividly rendered stories of place and character in this book are set in Jamaica, both rural and urban, some present-day, others looking back several decades. Senior's gift for fine characterization, for recreating the music of everyday speech, pervades these tales, which explore notions of home and exile as well as the intricate realm of the human spirit - its fallible nature, its indomitable strength against the sometimes downward pull of fate. Her finely etched characters include: Cissy and the Blackartman; Uncle, who returns from England with the heart taken out of him and an angry case against the Queen; Miss Evadney, of "the pressure and the arthritis", who fights to protect her precious chocho vine until matters are taken from her hands by her new Rasta neighbours; Eric, a mild-mannered businessman, and Sybil Pearson, in whom Eric glimpses hope - until their affair creates scandal, and changes events irrevocably; Sadie, a young girl caught between the refined world of Mother Dear and the more nourishing, troublesome one of their servant Desrine and her daughter Manuela.
Evocative, honest and wonderfully nuanced, these are indeed stories by one discerning in both head and heart.
BOOKS IN CANADA

...a feast of endlessly inventive language.
GLOBE AND MAIL

...a  juxtaposition of lively voices.
NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW

...a feast of imaginative language, cadence and imagery...
MS MAGAZINE

It is worth the time spent reading Discerner of Hearts just to hear these people talk.
THE TORONTO STAR

Senior writes of characters endlessly concerned with their prospects, an attitude that keeps them in perpetual motion.
MACLEANS

Her eye is on her characters, their worlds and the shape of their lives. Her ears are open too, and she opens ours as well.
CALGARY HERALD

Senior's next book will be awaited with enthusiasm.
HALIFAX CHRONICLE-HERALD

Senior knows her characters well and treats them with dignity. Women of strength live in these stories: mature women who are alert to life around them and young women who sense that it is their destiny to grow up knowing who they are.
THE OTTAWA CITIZEN

...stories laced with compassion for the gravity and irony of the human situation.
THE LONDON FREE PRESS

Discerner of Hearts is accessible, engrossing and amusing. It is thoughtfully wrought - each story carefully textured, balanced, resolved with not a single excess word.
FUSE

...an accomplished and affecting collection of stories
MONTREAL GAZETTE

...a strong talent and a distinctive voice...
THE CANBERRA TIMES

...a lilting, haunting collection...
WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Olive Senior shows us that talent - truly great, world-class talent - can appear everywhere.
VICTORIA TIMES-COLONIST

Discerner of Hearts has a cadence that is measured by hearts beating or breaking ... The individuals in these stories have a quiet dignity and are skilfully brought to life as much by the emotions they feel, or are incapable of feeling, as by Senior's masterful use of dialogue.
EDMONTON JOURNAL

With her latest collection of wild and unforgiving and still somehow kind short stories, Olive Senior triumphs again... Hot summer reading at its best.
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